Brooklyn Park Revisits Possible Chicken Keeping Ordinance
Chickens are back up for debate before the Brooklyn Park City Council. The city expects to consider in the coming months a proposal to allow the keeping of up to four hens, or female chickens, on residential properties.
A survey last year, which the city says is statistically relevant, shows 67 percent of people in Brooklyn Park support or strongly support the keeping of chickens.
The last time the issue came up was in 2019, when pot-bellied pigs were also part of the discussion.
“I’ve been fighting for this since I’ve been on the council,” said Brooklyn Park City Council member Susan Pha, who favors allowing chicken keeping.
City officials say an increasing number of nearby cities now allow the keeping of chickens. Those include Brooklyn Center, Crystal, New Hope and Plymouth. The neighboring cities of Champlin and Maple Grove considered changes to their chicken ordinances last year but neither moved forward. Like Brooklyn Park, both of those cities only allow chickens on larger acreages. Brooklyn Park allows chickens on parcels 5 acres or larger.
Under language in Brooklyn Park’s proposed ordinance, roosters, or male chickens, would be prohibited. The slaughtering of chickens on residential property would also be illegal.
Despite city survey support, there are concerns. City officials listed smell, lack of coop maintenance, attracting wild animals and neighbor setback issues as possible drawbacks.
Brooklyn Park City Council member Tonja West-Hafner says she raised chickens herself growing up. While not necessarily opposed to allowing them in Brooklyn Park, she says the keeping of chickens is “a lot more work than people might think it is.”
West-Hafner pointed out that chickens lay eggs for only a couple years, then you have to get new ones. She wondered whether the city would require registration and have residents go through an education program like it did for beekeeping. The city’s beekeeping ordinance was approved in 2015. The council member also wondered about chicken feces. Under the city’s proposed ordinance, the droppings have to be put in a container, but not in a composting bin.
“Do they do like we do with dogs and it goes into a plastic bag into the actual garbage can?” she asked.
The question wasn’t addressed at the city council meeting Monday night since it was only a discussion item.
West-Hafner and council member Terry Parks, a former fire investigator, also raised possible fire concerns. That’s because baby chickens require heat lamps and can’t be kept outside in a coop during the winter.
“I’ve been to those house fires and those garage fires, when we started digging we found the coops,” said Parks.
It’s unclear what kind of regulations would be put in place. Michelle Peterson, the city’s neighborhood health supervisor, told council members that if a permit were to be required, there would need to be budget and staffing considerations for that. Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Edina and Minnetonka are examples of cities with a chicken keeping ordinance that do not require permits and registration. Others like Minneapolis, New Hope, Plymouth and St. Paul do require them.
However, council member Pha said she would be against requiring permits and a training requirement since they’re not required for dog and cat owners.
“That would be quite unfair,” said Pha.
Under a suggested timeline, a proposed chicken ordinance could come before the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission and Brooklyn Park City Council in March.