MANKATO — Two men who were hoping to continue raising chickens at their Mapleton homes met unanimous disapproval by the town’s City Council Tuesday night.
The three councilman who were at the meeting said they were more concerned about other Mapleton residents who might decide to raise chickens than they were about Kyle Ochsner and Jason Klein. Both men said they live on the edge of town and have larger lots.
“I have no doubt you guys will be very responsible to take care of them,” said Councilman Judd Schultz. “But others, not so much. The ones who do it and don’t do it well are going to ruin it for everyone and we’ll be back here in a year doing this again.”
Two of the five council members weren’t able to attend the meeting, but Mayor James Swanson said he wanted to move forward with the vote because it had been on the table for more than a month. Ochsner and Klein asked the council to change its ordinance outlawing chickens in the city limits after they were contacted by police and told their chickens had to go.
At least one of the missing councilmen, Alan Christian, also was against changing the ordinance, Schultz said.
“I agree with his concerns that, if you do this for one thing, where do you stop?” Schultz said, saying he had talked to Christian about the issue. “You say, ‘Well, just allow chickens.’ I know that sounds easy but it really isn’t.”
Ochsner, who had been raising six chickens to provide a life lesson for his kids, said he was told a councilman complained after seeing one of his chickens from the road. He was not told which councilman. It sounded like an odd complaint, Ochsner said, because he has a barn that is used to temporarily store hogs not far from his house.
Klein said he and his father have been raising livestock on several acres of property at the edge of town for about four decades. When he asked his nearest neighbor what she thought about his chickens, she said she didn’t know he had them, Klein said.
An Internet survey that was completed by 134 people showed 56 percent of those people were against changing the animal ordinance and 44 percent were in favor of the change, said Patty Woodruff, city administrator. Surveys done through Facebook and email had similar percentages, she said.
The councilmen said, of the residents they talked to, about two thirds were against a change for chickens.
While researching the topic, Woodruff also found the city would have to take on a variety of new responsibilities if chickens were allowed in town. Coops would have to be inspected, setback rules would have to be enforced and someone would have to make sure the manure was handled properly.
“There’s a lot to it,” she said.
The discussion lasted about 15 minutes, including comments from residents, before the council unanimously voted against the ordinance change.