4/17/2014 3:48:00 PM Council makes final decisions on chickens in Taylors Falls
by PAUL RIGNELL
Taylors Falls council members approved the city’s ordinance on raising chickens, at Monday’s meeting. For a $25 fee, residents may keep up to six hens per lot for egg production. The ordinance allows no roosters. The hens will not be allowed to roam free-range. A coop must be provided to allow five square feet of interior floor space for each hen on the property, and the coop’s height must allow six feet from floor to ceiling for owner access, cleaning and maintenance. Coops must be kept at least 25 feet from any house or other inhabitable building, along with meeting 10-foot setbacks from side and rear lot lines.
Interested residents must get approval from all adjacent neighbors before being issued a permit. As coops behind homes could not be seen by neighbors across streets, chicken owners must get permission only from neighbors with whom they share open space or adjacent. The chicken permits will be good only for 12 months before renewal is required. An applicant may choose to start their permit year on May 1 or June 1. They will be asked to self-inspect their coops and operations near the end of each permit year, and complete a checklist that is issued by the city. Owners will be asked to pledge and verify that their coops are in good, clean condition and that they meet proper dimensions and setbacks in the ordinance. Applicants will be charged a $5 administrative fee per annual renewal.
As for chicken owners sharing their hens’ eggs, they would be free to give them to friends or family but the city ordinance prohibits commercial sales of eggs produced on any residents property. In other business Council welcomed Chisago County Boad Chair Rick Greene to give updates on county news. Greene reported that several capital improvements are scheduled at the government center in Center City this year, including a new roof and some window replacements. He added that work is scheduled for improving air and heating functions. He noted that the building’s chiller “failed several times last year,” and in addition to addressing that issue the county will replace some ineffective boilers. Mayor Mike Buchite asked about a new county jail. Greene said the Legislature turned down a $10 million request for subsidizing a $20 million jail project in this bonding year. Greene said the county would like to partner with the Department of Natural Resources for work on County Road 16 between Highway 95 and County 71.
He noted the DNR gave $1 million previously toward work on County 12. – Council approved a 2014 contract to establish what Shafer Township will pay Taylors Falls for firefighting services at $14,725.59, up from 2013’s total of $13,212.18. Following a formula from the Minnesota Townships Association that includes population, area market value and percentage of fire calls, Taylors Falls was proposing a payment for 2014 of $16,239, representing an increase of 22 percent. City Council member Mary Jo Murphy explained that the formula figure jumped because Shafer Township’s total market value increased from about $24 million in 2012 to nearly $45.4 million in 2013. The Taylors Falls council agreed that only for 2014, the city would charge Shafer Township less than what the formula dictated.
The billing increase of $1,513.41 represents 50 percent of the formula increase. The Taylors Falls Fire Department is operating with a budget of $52,385 for 2014. – Council approved a conditional use permit a tree nursery on property at 20382 – 310th St. – Council approved a Franconia Sculpture Park plan to seek a state arts grant that would support sculpture park artists working with area youth to create public art for placement in Shafer, Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls. (See story in Chisago County Press, April 10 issue) – Council agreed to reduce 12 months of utility fees for new Springs Inn owner Rick Anderson, who is working to refurbish and reopen the motel and restaurant business.
Anderson was to be charged $1,142.58 for water, sewer and related fees based on the city code counting 20 motel rooms as five residential equivalent units, or REUs, and the restaurant as an additional two REUs. Council agreed to charge Anderson water and sewer rates only for one REU while the business remains closed as he prepares for reopening. Other fees are constant, and his bill for the year would be down to $266.34. The city clerk was given discretion to reinstate full utility fees when Anderson opens the business. Council agreed that the city should consider this leniency for future property owners who may plan to renovate any business sites closed for 12 months or longer. Council added, however, that the city would consider the reduction only on the property owner’s request.