East Grand Forks Council members continue discussion on residential chickens
Also during Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Steve Gander offered words of support for Grand Forks city leaders after their decision to move away from the proposed Fufeng corn mill.
EAST GRAND FORKS – City Council members in East Grand Forks on Tuesday revisited whether residents should be allowed to have laying hens within city limits .
The request is being made by East Grand Forks resident Hannah Dewey, who is asking the city to lift restrictions on chickens within city limits.
Dewey provided council members with further guidelines and regulations that can be included in permits. Some include having people provide plans for manure management, providing how the coops would be situated in their yards, proving how many hens they plan to acquire and not allowing roosters.
In addition to some of the regulations, Dewey also suggested having a permit that extends for 18 months rather than expiring at the end of each year.
“December 31 is a pretty challenging day to get rid of chickens, whether you’re trying to butcher them or rehome them,” Dewey said. “Of course with the weather that we have that would be a really challenging time to have a permit run out and not really have anything to do with those birds if you chose not to extend your permit, or if for some reason your permit was denied.”
Several council members raised concerns on safety measures, including the transmission of salmonella to other animals. Dewey said additional regulations could be included within the permit to ask how eggs would be managed.
Some council members also said they would like to hear more from residents about chickens being allowed within city limits. Council member Brian Larson said he spoke with a few residents and got mixed opinions.
Council member Ben Pokrzywinski said his concern is residents will start to ask for other farm animals to be allowed within city limits if chickens are allowed. Mayor Steve Gander asked what enforcement would be in place in case things got out of hand.
If the council decides not to lift restrictions, Dewey asked whether the city could issue an experimental conditional use permit to see whether allowing hens would create any issues. City Attorney Ron Galstad said conditional use permits are given for zoning purposes. At present, the city has an ordinance that makes it illegal to have chickens within city limits.
Council members decided to table the item for further discussion.
Also Tuesday, council members met in executive session following their regularly scheduled council meeting. Following the closed portion of the meeting, council members approved entering into a retainer with Pemberton Law Firm as a third-party consultant to look at the current status of the East Grand Forks Police Department in ways to improve staffing.
Before the council adjourned to go into the closed session, Gander spoke about the Fufeng corn mill project, which was proposed for Grand Forks. On Monday, Grand Forks City Council members voted to stop the controversial project after the Department of the U.S. Air Force declared the project a threat to national security.
The Monday meeting in Grand Forks was marked by a number of residents calling for resignations of city leaders .
“Over the last year I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I think about the Fufeng corn milling project and I always give the same answer: This project has some pretty powerful pros and cons — some reasons to do it and reasons not to do it. And over and over I’d say let’s let the process play out. Let’s let the process work the way it should. Gather information, fact finding and make a good decision when all that information has been gathered. Well, now the information is all in. The decision’s been made,” Gander said.
He said the Grand Forks council undertook an "exhaustive and deliberative process" since the project was first announced in November 2021.
"They gathered all relevant information. I believe they made the right choice regarding the plant. No one should feel that their voice was not heard in this process," Gander said.
He the noted the two cities' recent discussions to someday build a new bridge across the Red River. There have been disagreements, he said, but they still work well together.
"As I consider Mayor Brandon Bochenski, as I consider Council President Dana Sande and the entire City Council over there. As I consider Administrator Todd Feland and all the city staff, I will tell you this much: In my view and in my experience I have never had an occasion to question their motives or their fitness for the work that they’re doing," Gander said. "It’s time for us all then to pull together and work on the challenges and opportunities that we face and move on from this. But just know, they’re good good people. (They are) good to work with and they have our full trust and support — at least speaking for myself.”
In other news Tuesday, council members:
- Approved awarding two Americans with Disabilities Act project proposals, including reconstruction of sidewalk on Third Street Northwest and new sidewalk construction on Sherlock Parkway to Tony Anderson Construction in the amount of $101,567. Funding will come from State Aid Maintenance for the sidewalk reconstruction project and Sunshine Terrace Funds for the sidewalk construction project.
- Approved the purchase of a Ford Police Interceptor SUV from Tenvoorde Ford for $43,002.88. The vehicle will be equipped by Guardian Fleet Safety for $18,243.56 and the striping of the vehicle will be completed by Custom Stripes for $620.
- Approved adopting a resolution requesting Polk County to financially participate in a bridge study, which will be conducted by SRF Consulting Group, Inc.