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Urban fowl debate flaps on in Cottage Grove

As St. Paul Park loosens its ordinances regarding chickens on residential properties, the city of Cottage Grove is still struggling to find what council member Derrick Lehrke called a "happy medium" on the issue.

The Cottage Grove City Council began discussing urban fowl last fall after several residents filed complaints against their neighbors who had chickens and ducks within city limits. Cottage Grove city code currently allows farm animals, including chickens, on residential lots with a minimum of five acres in contiguous ownership or one and one-half acres per farm animal.

After several months of meetings and workshops to decide whether or not the birds should be allowed to stay, the council has repeatedly delayed a final vote citing the need for more information.

However, Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey called for a decision.

"You've had plenty of workshops and I've seen more reams of data than on any item I've ever seen from staff," Bailey told council members last week. "I will not vote for it to go back again (for more discussion). This has gone on too long and council needs to make a decision."

At a recent council workshop, council member Justin Olsen expressed his concern for not being "as educated as I would like," and asked Chicken Run Rescue, a Minneapolis-based urban chicken rescue group, to attend a council meeting to bring more information to the discussion table. The group was scheduled to attend the council's upcoming April 17 meeting, however Olsen said he would not be able to attend the meeting and requested to have the group present at the city's annual all-commission meeting on Saturday, April 20.

"The council can then make a final determination once all the information has been received," Olsen added.

The council is expected to vote on the urban poultry issue at its regular meeting on May 1.