Residential chickens considered by East Grand Forks council

Jan. 24—EAST GRAND FORKS — A request to allow East Grand Forks residents to have chickens or laying hens within city limits was considered by council members during their work session meeting Tuesday evening.

The request was made by East Grand Forks resident Hannah Dewey who is asking for restrictions on chickens within city limits to be lifted. Currently, chickens aren't allowed within city limits.

Community Development Director Nancy Ellis said if the council did allow for chickens, it would require an amendment to the city's zoning ordinance. Currently, the city allows for limited livestock in the urban expansion reserve zoning district, which means residents must have a minimum of two acres of land.

In an email sent to council members, Dewey cited issues of affordability for families putting food on the table with the increases in egg prices, which has affected regions across the country. Dewey also pointed out that chickens, specifically laying hens, can serve as a resource for a healthy environment as their waste and bedding can be composted and they reduce pest populations.

Some potential restrictions Dewey listed in her email is to set a limit on the number of hens per household, restrict roosters, as well as require coops and runs to be a certain distance from neighboring property lines.

Council member Clarence Vetter said with the limits Dewey included in the email, he doesn't see much of a problem, but asked for other council members' thoughts on the idea.

Several council members expressed their disinterest in the idea, including Tim Riopelle who shared his concerns about noise.

"Personally I'm against it," he said. "I've had the displeasure of having someone with a chicken coop across the street from me and it did create quite a ruckus in the neighborhood."

Council member Dale Helms also said he is against the idea, saying that if the city allows chickens, additional requests may be made for other animals within city limits.

"I'm against this also. I think it becomes a point in time when we as a City Council have to stand ground on some things and I think this is one of those cause I guess the way I look at it is it's chickens today and probably pigs tomorrow," Helms said. "... I just think before we know it we'll have our own little farm in town here and we don't really need that."

Helms said the city should stick with the current ordinance that doesn't allow for chickens in city limits.

Council member Karen Peterson asked about who would be responsible for monitoring complaints and safety concerns regarding food-borne pathogens chickens carry.

City Attorney Ron Galstad said the city doesn't have an employee who monitors safety and health concerns.

The council will continue to discuss the idea at future meetings.

Residential chickens were also previously discussed across the river in Grand Forks. In 2021, the Grand Forks City Council agreed to

limit residents to six chickens

apiece and require them to get written approval from everyone who owns property within 65 feet of the property on which the chickens will live.

In other news Tuesday, council members:

Reviewed the bid results for two Americans with Disabilities Act project proposals including reconstruction of sidewalk on Third Street Northwest and new sidewalk construction on Sherlock Parkway. A total of four bids were received with Tony Anderson Construction being the lowest bidder at $101,567, which was below the engineer's estimate. Funding will come from State Aid Maintenance for the sidewalk reconstruction project and Sunshine Terrace Funds for the sidewalk construction project. The recommendation is to award both projects to Tony Anderson Construction.

Received a request from the Police Department to purchase a SUV. The 2023 Police Department Capital Expense Budget has $55,000 designated to purchase one police SUV. The new vehicle would replace the department's 2019 Ford Police Interceptor F-150 Pick-Up Truck, which the department plans to convert so it will be used by the School Resource Officer.