Brooklyn Park Postpones Vote on Backyard Chicken-keeping
The Brooklyn Park City Council debated backyard chicken-keeping this Monday. The council decided to push back a vote on whether residents can keep chickens until later this fall.
Community members have expressed support for chicken keeping in several city surveys.
“It’s absolutely not right for us to keep it illegal,” said Hassanen Mohamed, Brooklyn Park resident. “There is no basis for it health-wise or otherwise. They’re here.”
In Brooklyn Park’s 2021 city survey, 67 percent of respondents said they supported a backyard chicken-keeping ordinance.
City staff also surveyed residents in 2019.
In that round of questioning, 57 percent of respondents supported residential chicken keeping.
However, the prospect of backyard birds continues to be a sticking point for city leaders. In 2012, the Brooklyn Park City Council rejected a chicken keeping ordinance.
The council revisited and ultimately rejected another chicken keeping proposal in 2019. That ordinance would have allowed residents to keep a larger swath of backyard animals including chickens, pot-bellied pigs and small breed goats.
The council tabled a third chicken keeping ordinance in 2022 amidst concerns about avian flu. However, with those concerns waning, the council voted 6-1 to reopen the issue for discussion later this fall.
Brooklyn Park City Council Member Boyd Morson cast the lone vote against revisiting the issue.
According to Michelle Peterson, Brooklyn Park neighborhood health supervisor, many residents already keep chickens. They typically keep chickens as pets, as a source of fresh eggs, for sustainability or for cultural reasons, Peterson said.
Four Hen Chickens Allowed in Back yards
Through the latest proposal, Brooklyn Park residents would be allowed to keep up to four hen chickens in their back yards.
Chicken owners would have to register with the city. They would pay a $50 registration fee for a site plan review.
Property owners in a homeowner’s association would be able to keep chickens, but only with a letter of authorization from their HOA.
The city gets approximately 5-10 complaints a year related to chicken keeping, Peterson said.
“We do find that the complaints we receive are proportionately against our BIPOC residents,” she said.
Brooklyn Park Residents Speak on Backyard Chickens
Several residents spoke in favor of allowing backyard chickens.
Resident Tara Mercer, who said she rehabilitates animals in her career, asked the council to consider allowing a larger number of chickens on residential properties.
“People complain about the noise — hens are very quiet,” Mercer said. “Roosters not so much. The average rooster is still less noisy as my neighbor’s two dogs.”
Meanwhile, resident Collette Guyott-Hempel spoke against backyard chickens.
“If you want a pet, have a cat, have a dog,” she said.
Brooklyn Park Council Holds Off
The council decided to readdress the issue of backyard chickens with fresh survey data.
The city plans to conduct a survey this fall, with results coming back in late October or early November.
Brooklyn Park City Council Member Boyd Morson said he opposed backyard chickens for community health reasons related to Avian Flu.
“I won’t remove myself from that same position,” he said. “I don’t want to not consider the time that it would take for the understaffed code enforcement department to have to go out and implement [this].”
Brooklyn Park City Council Member Christian Eriksen also noted his concerns with code enforcement for a backyard chicken ordinance.
“Overwhelmingly, [resident] support has been for it,” Brooklyn Park City Council Member XP Lee said.