CANDO, N.D. — Despite pushback from City Hall, Shana Lannoye isn’t backing away from her desire to keep hens in her Cando yard.
Lannoye is determined to convince the City Council and mayor of Cando, a Towner County city of about 1,100, that a small flock of chickens will not cause problems for other residents. Instead, she believes having hens in her backyard would be a benefit to her children and other youngsters in the community.
Lannoye’s request to build a coop for 10 chickens was met with opposition by some members of the council and by Mayor Rollie Bjornstad, who believe that, among other problems, the chickens would attract rodents and predators.
"I am a farmer, and we've had chickens all of our lives," Bjornstad said. "I know the rodent problems we can have. My son, they have chickens and we have cats all over the farm, and he still spends 30 bucks a month putting poison in the chicken coop. You can’t keep the mice out."
His son’s flock is made up of about 40 hens, he said.
But Lannoye told the council and Bjornstad at a meeting last month that she only wants to keep 10 chickens, and that her husband can build an attractive coop that won’t detract from the neighborhood, she said.
Other benefits of having a flock of chickens would be teaching her children — ages 6, 4 and 2 — where food comes from and about the responsible care of livestock, Lannoye said.
Meanwhile, another Cando resident, who didn’t know that there was an ordinance against housing them in town, for the past year has had a flock of chickens that were so inconspicuous that apparently no one knew they were there, she said.
“We are a small, rural agricultural community. If other, larger cities can make it work, why can’t a small town like Cando?” Lannoye asked.
Grand Forks and East Grand Forks allow homeowners to have chickens under certain conditions, according to their city ordinances.
In Grand Forks, for example, Ordinance 11-0215 says “Fowl may be allowed within the city limits for nonindustrial, noncommercial or nonagricultural purposes as approved by the director of public health department, after considering the impact of noise, odors, sanitation and other public health, safety and welfare consequences upon neighboring properties, the neighborhood and the city.”
Meanwhile, the ordinance also stipulates that no fowl can be kept within an enclosure at a distance of less than 75 feet from any dwelling house without the written consent of the owner or tenants of the building.
Northwest of Grand Forks, Park River, N.D., which has a population of about 1,500, in 2014 revised its ordinance against housing chickens in town to allow it after a resident lobbied the City Council for several months.
The city’s Ordinance 3.a. says, in part, that up to eight chickens (no roosters) will be allowed with a license, a separate coop and run is required to house the chickens and the coop must be in the rear of the property and set back at least 5 feet from the property lines.
The Park River ordinance also requires that the place where the chickens are kept must be enclosed and kept clean of any substances, including garbage, that attracts rodents, and that all grain and food stored for the use of the hens on the premises must be kept in a rodent-proof container.
Lannoye has proposed to the Cando City Council rules that include requiring the owners of chickens to buy a permit, allowing no roosters and requiring proper housing for the hens. She is working to drum up support for her proposal to change the city’s ordinance through social media posts and has brought attention to Cando’s ban on chickens by contacting the Grand Forks Herald.
“I was trying to reach out and get word out there that it’s not a bad thing. It can be a really good thing for a community, if they’re willing to try it,” she said.
Bjornstad, another member of the City Council and the Towner County Sheriff plan to meet in the near future to share information about other cities’ ordinances regarding chickens. Based on their findings, they expect to make a recommendation about whether to allow fowl in town, Bjornstad said.
One option is to put the ordinance change on the ballot.
“Quite a few people feel it should go to a vote of the people,” he said.
Lannoye doesn’t expect everyone to like chickens, but just to agree that the ordinance should be changed to allow hens to be kept in the city.
“It doesn’t appeal to everybody…. It doesn’t appeal to me to have a cat, but I’m not out there saying nobody should have cats,” she said.