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Now it’s chickens and ducks in BE

By Staff | Aug 11, 2019

Ben Eckmann, shown above standing outside the chicken and duck enclosure in his backyard, was at the Blue Earth City Council meeting last Monday asking an ordinance which restricts farm animals be changed.

The Blue Earth City Council has tackled issues with deer roaming the city and dogs not leashed in the past.

Now it is chickens and ducks.

City resident Ben Eckmann was at last Monday night’s council meeting to make a plea to change the city ordinance which currently bans farm animals including poultry from residences in the city.

Eckmann was recently cited for having both chickens and ducks in his yard on the north side of town at 516 N. Moore St.

“I have six chickens and two ducks,” Eckmann told the council during the public comment portion of the meeting. “They are like pets and my kids use them for 4-H projects.”

City ordinance allows farm-type animals in ag designated areas of the city only, and they must be on lots of 10 acres or more and more than 300 feet from the property line.

Eckmann told the council members that his fenced in area is 22.5 square feet, with his coop having two to three square foot areas per bird

The council spent some time discussing whether the ordinance should be changed to allow residents to have a limited number of chickens or other fowl in their yards.

City administrator Tim Ibisch said the city staff plans on enforcing the current ordinance until and unless the council decides to amend it. That would mean Eckmann would have to immediately remove the fowl from his property.

However, the council decided to allow Eckmann to keep his chickens and ducks for 60 days while they investigate how other cities handle this issue.

“I think we should give him a pass while city staff looks at examples of what other cities do allow,” councilman John Huisman said. “We need to look at all the options.”

The 60-day period is due to the fact it could take that long to create a new ordinance, have two readings of it, and get it published in the official newspaper, before it could take effect.

One council member noted the city of Frost had recently published a lengthy new ordinance concerning chickens in the city.

Others noted an ordinance should include getting a permit which would track the number of places chickens would be kept.

“What are we going to do if we get chickens all over town,” questioned councilman Marty Cassem. “I don’t think we want that to happen.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes said that is why the council needs to take the time to investigate what happens in cities where chickens are allowed before making any final decisions.

Another residential issue also came up at last Monday’s meeting, this one having to do with keeping a permanent dumpster at a residence.

The homeowner has been keeping a dumpster at his residence near Leland Parkway since 2004, and is having it dumped once every three months.

The reason is that the resident is often gone from the home for long periods of time and his wife has MS and cannot get the garbage out to the street, according to a report given to the council. It also states he was given permission to have the dumpster in 2004.

Now the dumpster is rusting out on the bottom and needs to be replaced, the council learned from Chris Cyphers, owner of B & B Sanitation.

After some discussion, the council decided to follow the language of the ordinance which states any dumpster needs to be emptied weekly.

The council also took note that Cyphers was willing to have his crew walk a B & B garbage bin from the house to the curb and dump it each week.