Residents can now have chickens within city limits. Republican Eagle file photo. 

The Red Wing city council officially passed ordinances to allow for both honey bee keeping and chicken keeping in non-agricultural zones. 

These ordinances have been in the works for several years before fully passing. Concerns about disrupting neighbors and issues with runoff were some of the factors that previously kept the ordinances from passing. 

“This has been brought up almost every year since I’ve been on the council,” said council member Dean Hove. 

Hove added, “This time I knew there was going to be enough support for it but my issue with this was that there may be concerns with neighbors. Nobody in the past really wanted to deal with that issue like the current planning commission and council did this time.”

The council and staff worked to create ordinances that allow for these options while also being considerate when it comes to complaints people may have. The ordinance calls for inspections of coops, notifying neighbors and more extensive work to keep it all contained and clean.

“Neighbors will be alerted and if anyone has an issue with it we are going to try to deal with it and neighbors are able to appeal and that is new this time,” Hove said. 

Another issue that raised concern was making sure the chicken coop was inspected and ensuring that waste and food is all contained. 

“My biggest thing was making sure that the coop and run and everything gets inspected when the permit is first given to those who want chickens. That way we know if there are any problems right up front instead of waiting for a complaint to come,” Hove said. 

The ordinance went through multiple readings and changes before the completed approval. The council discussed their concerns and also listened to the community and took any feedback into consideration when approving the final drafts of the ordinances. 

“I'm thankful to all the community members I heard from in support of or with concerns about the ordinances. I think that feedback made it the best possible first ordinance,” Council President Becky Norton said.

“I know we may need to revise the ordinance as we learn more, but having a perfect ordinance when you don't know what you don't know shouldn't be the single limiting factor. We can learn more and do better,” Norton continued. 

This discussion has been recurring for more than 10 years according to council member Evan Brown. During his time on the Sustainability Commission this was a topic of conversation and debate. 

“When I was chair of the Sustainability Commission I knew a lot of people who were interested in this topic and it had been closed down by the previous councils. I think this issue has been brought up over the course of about maybe 12 years,” Brown said. 

The Sustainability Commission had discussions on how to go about this topic and get another discussion started within the city council. 

“The first time we got it to stick to the wall was when we revisited this within the Sustainability Commission. Then, when I started on council and we were working through our annual priorities, there were interests in this topic along with allowing urban beekeeping,” Brown said. 

The Sustainability Commission looked at the drafts for these ordinances and then it went back to the Planning Commission before reaching the finalization by the city council. 

With the passing of these two ordinances, residents can now review the qualifications and apply for permits. The council is looking forward to seeing how the residents within the city take advantage of this in the future. 

I'm glad to recognize that all people can safely and humanely raise chickens inside the city limits,” Norton said. 

“In a time period where we are and our children are often more and more disconnected from nature and our food and when costs of food are on the rise, chickens can add a tremendous value to a family,” she continued. 


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