After nearly a year of back and forth discussion, the City of Fountain has maintained its stance that the keeping of chickens within city limits will be prohibited. The decision was noted at the brief Wednesday, February 6 council meeting.
The issue was first raised in May of 2018 when resident Emily Root and her family requested to keep 10 laying hens on their large city lot. At the time, city ordinances prohibited the keeping of farm-type animals. Root sought permission to construct a 10×15-foot greenhouse with attached coop on the north wall of a privacy fence on the property. Root indicated she’d discussed the matter with nearby residents and had been met with no objections.
From the get-go, the city council, including then-Mayor Richard Kujath and Councilor Brian Ostby, expressed concern over the allowance of chickens in the city of 400 snowballing into others wanting to keep other animal types and possible animal control issues. However, there were no immediate concerns noted over Root’s plans.
In June the council indicated it would not change the ordinance, despite a grassroots effort to develop a chicken-only ordinance and suggestions of permitting, fines, and monitoring. Root and several other residents presented a petition of 21 of 28 canvassed households to the council in July. At that meeting, the council unanimously approved a motion to hold a public meeting on the issue. No official date was set for the public meeting.
By the August meeting, the council voted to rescind that motion, to hold a public meeting, noting that it assumed a Conditional Use Permit would be sought and the meeting was for the purposes of discussing the permit issuance and not for general information. It was also at that meeting when the council voted to place the issue on the ballot, indicating it would ask whether or not the city should consider moving forward with amendments to current ordinances or creation of a specific chicken ordinance.
The council opted to take steps to put the chicken ordinance question on the November ballot as a way of garnering public input. Just a month later, however, the city learned it was unable to include the question on the ballot due to state statute and the issue was once again sent back to planning and zoning.
“There’s a lot of different ordinances in other towns around. I think we need to take it back to the zoning board and let us look at it to come up with a plan to see if it’s worth coming up with a new ordinance, amending it, or sticking with the one we have,” said Councilor Jim Schott at the September 5 meeting. “We will bring it back to the city council next month and we’ll be done with it.”
No further discussion was made known from that time until now. Planning and Zoning met January 29 and discussed the matter, eventually recommending the city uphold the ordinance. “It came down to staying with ordinance in place. That way there’s no favoritism for those wanting any other farm animals. It’s in fairness for everyone in the city,” said new Mayor Jim Schott. “It’s up to the council if they want to pursue the ordinance further or put this thing to rest.” The council, including new councilors Terry Hanson and Ron Reisner, approved the decision unanimously.
In other news, the city has contracted with Fred Suhler to serve as civil attorney and Brett Corson to serve as prosecuting attorney. Suhler was the only to apply for the position, while both Corson and Lee Novotny sent proposals for prosecuting attorney. Corson’s proposal came in significantly lower.
Replacement of lighting to LED continues. Some were re-ordered after an issue, while additional overhead floodlights were ordered for the fire hall. Councilor Chad Wangen suggested the city replace the park lights as well, later this spring.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.