Alexandria considers ordinance that would allow chickens in city limits
The city has grappled with this subject before. It was last considered by the council in 2014.
ALEXANDRIA — Here’s something to cluck about: Should residents inside the city limits be allowed to keep chickens on their property?
Right now, city ordinances prohibit it but that could change.
At its meeting Monday night, after the city received a request to allow chickens in the city, the Alexandria City Council referred the issue to the planning commission. It will hold public hearings and report back to the council in March or April or when the hearing process is completed. Public notices of the dates of the hearings will be printed in the newspaper.
The city has grappled with this subject before. It was last considered by the council in 2014 . The city’s planning commission held several public hearings that stretched over three months. On a 4-2 vote, the commission recommended allowing chickens in the city limits, with several regulations. However, on a 3-2 vote, the council ultimately voted it down.
At that time, council members who opposed the ordinance questioned how the multiple layers of the chicken ordinance would be enforced. They were also concerned about the rights of city residents who wouldn't like chickens living near them, and how it could lead to requests for allowing other animals such as rabbits and pigs.
Council members who supported the ordinance said that a growing city like Alexandria could expect to receive requests from residents interested in pursuing those kinds of hobbies but can handle them case-by-case. They said they didn't see a problem in allowing a resident to keep a couple of chickens on their property.
Back in 2014, the change would have allowed chickens in single and two-family residential zones, which could have also included schools and churches, but not in residential districts zoned for mobile homes.
The T.A. ‘Dad’ Erickson Post Office?
An effort is under way to dedicate the Alexandria Post Office in honor of T.A. “Dad” Erickson, who played a lead role in getting the 4-H youth organization going in Minnesota.
Douglas County 4-H members are working with U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach on the idea. The members learned the first step in the process of dedication is securing the approval of the city where the post office is located. It will also involve the Minnesota Legislature.
The council approved a resolution of support for the effort. The resolution notes that:
- Theodore August Erickson was born in Alexandria in 1871, taught high school in Alexandria, served as principal of the Ward School in Alexandria, and served as superintendent of schools in Douglas County.
- Erickson was instrumental in starting 4-H in Minnesota by having school-wide contests for youth in rural schools to share their crops, produce and baked goods.
- Erickson went on to join the University of Minnesota faculty in 1912, was named head of 4-H, and served in that role until 1940, growing the organization to a membership of 47,000.
Jodi Hintzen, Extension educator 4-H youth development, told the council that Erickson’s life work centered around education for all. Erickson died on January 30, 1963. His home place in Alexandria is where the Geneva Golf Club is now located.
Hintzen said she contacted the local post office and the postmaster and the postmaster was in favor of it.
The effort is being led by Douglas County 4-H Council Youth officers Rylee Bundermann, Seth Engelbrecht, Owinn Cimbura, Tahira Schaffran, Reagan Lennes; adult advisors Courtney Engelbrecht, Jed Fiskness, Elizabeth Paul, Brandie Schlosser, Stacey Schaffran; and Extension educators in 4-H Youth Development Hintzen and Jackie Kokett.
Will your street get an overlay?
Ten city streets are on the list for overlay improvements this year.
The council agreed to advertise for bids on the projects, which include:
- Victoria Drive.
- Fingal Drive.
- Fingal Court.
- Knute Street.
- Ashley Lane.
- Ashley Court.
- Hustad Street.
- Donna Avenue.
- Tolena Road.
The total budget for the projects is $424,000. As in other years, all streets will be bid in separate bid schedules and projects will be adjusted to meet the available budget.
City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven told the council that the overlay projects are "the least exciting but most important project we do" because it saves money. Overlays keep the roads in good condition and the city is able to avoid costly reconstruction work.
The projects are included in the capital improvement budget with $324,000 coming from state aid and $100,000 from the city’s street paving levy, as approved in the 2023 budget.
Bids will be opened on Tuesday, March 14.
Sidewalk may be extended on Hwy. 29
The sidewalk along Highway 29 South is on course for another extension.
The council agreed to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to extend the sidewalk from 34th Avenue to 44th Avenue.
The city originally applied for local partnership funding through the state back in July 2020. In September of 202, the city was informed that the project was selected and the city was awarded $410,000. Since then, the award was increased to $510,000.
The total cost of the project is $666,110. The remaining cost of $156,110 will be funded through state aid construction funds.
The final leg of the sidewalk extension will be to extend the sidewalk from 15th to 18th Avenue.
Four events get special permits
Two summer-time events, a walk to fight heart defects and a graduation ceremony for the Alexandria Technical and Community College all received special permits.
The Red Willow Arts Coalition's Summer Concert Series will be back for its 15th year. Concerts will take place on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn on Thursday evenings beginning May 25 through August 24 and a special Fourth of July concert is set for Tuesday, July 4. All the shows run from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Barricades will be set up on Seventh Avenue West between Douglas Street and Elm Street.
More than 1,000 people attend the concerts each week and some performances draw more than 2,000, according to the coalition. To see the concert line-up, go to www.redwillowartscoalition.org.
The Art Mart will return for its third season at Big Ole Central Park. It's organized by the Alexandria Arts Guild.
The council issued a special event permit application from Katie Girard of Carlson Music Center in Alexandria.
The events, which feature art displays, live music and other entertainment will take place every Saturday beginning May 27 through Sept. 2, 2023 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organizers Sandy Susag and Mimi Seykora told the council that more food trucks will be added this summer, along with activities for kids. They said that more than 11,400 people visited the Art Marts last summer.
The Lasting Imprint Congenital Heart Defect Walk will take place Sept. 9 from 6 a.m. to noon. The event will start and end at City Park, using the trail to Big Ole Central Park and back.
The Alexandria Technical and Community College graduation ceremony will be held on May 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Runestone Community Center, which has hosted the event for nine years.
Streets will be closed for traffic control, along with cones and barricades.
About 3,500 people are expected to attend the ceremony.