by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Backyard chickens got an initial go-ahead from the NYA City Council on Monday, Nov. 25.
Council members approved the Planning and Zoning Commission, who had OK’d the concept themselves, to develop a chicken-only ordinance in residential districts.
Similar to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s 4-3 vote on the recommendation, the council’s vote was narrow as well at 3-1 with council member Mike McPadden voting against and Mayor Tina Diedrick abstaining because of personal reasons.
The issue was before the council because of an appeal by Paula and Rollin Beaver of NYA who own two backyard chickens in a residential zone.
Council member Jim Keller, who is the council’s liaison on the planning commission, and City Administrator Steve Helget said the commission spent considerable time on their discussion.
“There was a fairly lengthy discussion, they did go back and forth on this,” said Helget. “There was some reservations but in the end they did vote in favor of it.”
In addition to working with staff on crafting an ordinance, Keller said the commission has plenty of examples to work with as well.
“One of the things we are not doing is sailing into uncharted waters here,” he said. “Many, many, many cities in the state – urban, exurbs, suburbs – all have ordinance regarding chickens. So it’s a fairly common thing.”
In his opposition, McPadden expressed significant concern with the proposal to change the city ordinance, saying he, as well as his dad and sister, had developed a lung fungus as a result of working with fowl on a family farm when he was younger.
“It’s out there,” said McPadden. “It’s not something that everybody who works with chickens gets, but if you work with chickens you have a higher risk to contract this disease… I was a sick little kid for a while when I had this stuff. Sometimes you can cure it and sometimes it stay with you your whole life.”
McPadden said he couldn’t “in good conscience” vote in favor of the ordinance moving forward because of the potential dangers with interacting with chickens or even airborne diseases, not to mention what this type of ordinance could lead to in terms of other less common animals being allowed.
“I personally won’t let my children play with chickens,” he said. “That’s me, I’m just talking about me. Because I know what I got when I was a kid. I wish I hadn’t got it, but I got it.”
Planning and Zoning Commission will now draft an ordinance and present it back to the council at a later date.
In other news, City Engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton and Menk gave a review of the completed 2013 infrastructure project.
The $1.4 million project which is nearly completed and came in under budget, covered mill and overlay as well as storms sewer repairs and improvements, spot repair of curbs and street patching. The assessed amount is $351,506, which is 1 percent below estimates. The city’s portion is at $1,068,150, which is 8.2 percent below estimates.
“Essentially some of the street patching work and some of the storm sewer work, those bid prices were a little bit lower than the payment to the assessable items,” he said.
Portions of the project, at the rate of $1,522.69 per unit in the base area and $1,887.59 per unit in the Industrial area, will be assessed to property owners. Property owners have a variety of different payment options including pre-paying the full amount without interest 30 days after the hearing before it will be added to tax statements, where $181 or $225 will be collected annually.
“If you do not want to pay your assessment, then it will be certified through the county and go through a period of 10 years,” he said, adding property owners can also pay the remaining balance prior to Nov. 15 in subsequent years. “That’s an important date to remember. If five or six years from now you want to take care of the rest of it, you (can) do so prior to Nov. 15.”
Saulsbury thanked the city and property owners for their helping the project go well.
“The project was certainly a headache,” he said. “We covered 208 parcels so it’s a very, very big area. Everyone was great to deal with.”
Council members also approved having the county collect about 166 delinquent utility and invoice fees through property taxes. The city is awaiting payment on $3,810.96 in invoices and $62,046.73 in utility bills.
Also, council discussed the hiring of a geographic information systems specialist with Chaska and Waconia, set a 2014 fee schedule, elected to add mechanical equipment to their and not to waive the statutory limitation on their liability coverage, approved a $1,000 payment from McDonald’s for services regarding a site plan for a second drive-thru lane and discussed recent Metropolitan Council population projections.
County population forecasts were reduced from 198,500 for 2030, to 131,130 for 2040, with NYA’s forecast was reduced from 8,800 to 8,000. Carver County and NYA are appealing those projections.
The NYA City Council will next meet for their last meeting of the year on Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]