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While Fargo and several cities in Minnesota allow chickens to be kept in city limits, Detroit Lakes has not been one of them, until now. A new city ordinance was approved Tuesday, Dec. 10. (Rick Abbott / Forum News Service)

Urban chickens now allowed in Detroit Lakes

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Detroit Lakes residents will now be able to enjoy fresh eggs from their own backyard chicken coops.

The City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 10, approved an amended ordinance that allows homeowners with a city permit to keep up to four hens. But don’t worry about waking up to that cock-a-doodle-doo crowing at the break of dawn: Roosters and other farm animals are still off limits.

The chickens have to be kept in a coop or chicken run at all times. The permit can be revoked if chickens are found to be at large — meaning unconfined, out of the control of their owner, or just plain breaking curfew — more than once.

Only family residential homes on a large lot (7,500 square feet or bigger) qualify for the chicken permit. The birds cannot be kept inside any residential structure, including basements, porches, garages, sheds or similar storage structures, and they cannot be kept on a vacant lot.

Nina Kleinschmidt, a Minnesota Avenue resident, was at the City Council meeting with her three young kids. Before the vote, she said “we’re cautiously optimistic,” that the council would pass the ordinance. But the kids were ready for battle. “They call it (the City Council meeting) the ‘chicken-fight meeting,’” she said with a laugh. She said the family will get a $60 chicken permit and keep backyard chickens. “They (the kids) say they’ll help with the chickens, but we’ll see,” she said with a smile.

Another woman at the meeting, Majken Hall of North Shore Drive, said her family also plans to get a permit, build a coop and follow the stipulations of the ordinance for backyard chickens.

The ordinance also loosens the leash a little on the number of pets allowed in town. Residents can now keep up to three dogs, cats, rabbits or guinea pigs as long as they have all been spayed or neutered. If not, the most pets that can be licensed under the new ordinance is still two per household, as it has been in the past.

Backyard dog runs or enclosures are now permitted on residential property. The new regulations allow them, as long as they cover an area less than 500 square feet, are screened from the view of next-door property owners by a solid fence or landscape buffer, and are built at least 10 feet away from the lot line.

Worried about the smell? The dog and chicken runs have to be kept reasonably clean, and chicken manure can’t be the main ingredient in any backyard compost piles.

The chicken coops have to be built to specifications that will keep the chickens inside at night, warm, safe and healthy, and keep rodents away.