Chickens and beehives tossed out of city limits

Residents in Alexandria won't be able to raise chickens or tend to beehives within the city limits any time soon. On a split vote Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted down a preliminary measure that would have changed city code to allo...

Residents in Alexandria won’t be able to raise chickens or tend to beehives within the city limits any time soon.

On a split vote Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted down a preliminary measure that would have changed city code to allow people to keep chickens in certain areas if they obtained permits and obeyed zoning restrictions.
Right after that measure failed, an ordinance to regulate honeybee hives within the city died when no one made a motion to approve it.
The changes would have allowed chickens or beekeeping operations in single and two-family residential zones, which could have also included schools and churches, but not in residential districts zoned for mobile homes.
City code would have heavily regulated both of these activities by requiring licensing and permits and limiting the operations.
Both ordinances were recommended for approval on a 4-2 vote by the Alexandria Planning Commission.
Council member Todd Jensen, who is also a member of the commission, questioned how the multiple layers of the chicken ordinance would be enforced. He was also concerned about the rights of city residents.
“People who moved to town don’t expect to live next door to a barn yard,” he said. He added that those who want to raise chickens can move out in the country to do it.
Jensen said the city was “treading on a slippery slope” if it allowed bees and chickens to be kept in town. He said it could lead to requests for rabbits, pot-bellied pigs and “who knows what.”
Council member Roger Thalman said that a growing city like Alexandria can expect to receive requests from residents interested in pursuing those kinds of hobbies but can handle them case-by-case.
Thalman said a resident keeping a couple of chickens on a piece of property didn’t amount to a barn yard any more than someone keeping three dogs.
Thalman noted that the planning commission held public hearings all summer long to gather public input on the ordinance.
Thalman made a motion to approve the ordinance and Dave Benson seconded it. It failed 3-2, with Jenson, Virgil Batesole and Owen Miller all voting no.
The beekeeping ordinance would have restricted the number of hives to one per parcel and the parcel would have to be more than 32,670 square feet in size or three-fourths of an acre.
City Planner Mike Weber said that less than 10 percent of the residential lots in Alexandria would be eligible.
Jensen raised similar objections to allowing bees. He said it wasn’t fair to let residents force their hobby on their neighbors, especially if they are allergic to bees.
Batesole said that he personally talked to 28 people about the chicken and bee ordinances and no one was in favor of it. Three residents also called him opposing the idea, he said.
Even though both ordinances failed, they can be reconsidered by the council at a later date.


An ordinance regulating the keeping of chickens was voted down Monday. Here are some of the key provisions in it:
• No roosters allowed.
• Land must be zoned for single or two-family residential purposes and be more than a half-acre in size.
• No more than four chickens per parcel.
• No butchering of chickens allowed.
• All grain and feed must be stored in a rodent-proof container.
• A $100 permit is required.
• Chickens may only be kept in side or rear yards.
• Chickens must be provided access to a coop and an attached run.
• Coops must be set back at least 10 feet from the home on the site; 50 feet from dwellings on any adjacent site; and 35 feet from the adjacent property line.
• Coops must be set back at least 25 feet from wetlands, ponds, basins, utility or access easements, public right of way, and shared driveways.
• Coops must have a minimum footprint of five square feet per chicken.
• Chicken runs must have at least a 10 square foot footprint and be enclosed by a fence at least five-feet high.
• Coops and runs must be clean, dry and odor free.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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