The motion to amend City Code to allow chickens in residential areas was denied in a 3-3 tie by Hastings City Council Tuesday, May 20.
During the hearing, residents on both sides of the issue spoke about the pros and cons of urban chickens. Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik showed up in favor of chickens, along with members of Dakota County 4-H who have backyard chickens at home.
In a presentation, city staff reported receiving roughly seven to 10 calls per year on the issue. When staff reached out to real estate offices, as requested by Council member Mark Vaughan at the May 6 meeting, few reported having difficulty selling homes in other communities because of chickens being allowed.
Support for the passing the amendment varied among council members, with some ready to give chickens a chance, and others wanting more questions answered. Mayor Mary Fasbender was absent.
In council discussion, Vaughan appreciated the work that staff had done, but said he didn't feel comfortable changing the ordinance without hard data of who is asking about chickens and where the inquiries were coming from.
"You can still shoot a lot of holes though this thing. We still haven't gotten a lot of the answers, but I appreciate staff doing what I asked them to do," Vaughan said.
Vaughan also raised concerns over the process, questioning if city administration would oversee applicants and disputes or if they would come before the council.
Council member Joe Balsanek shared a similar sentiment, stating that he disagrees with the section of the ordinance that would require applicants to come before the council for a hearing.
Council member Trevor Lund suggested sending the issue back to the commission, so that unknown details could be figured out before bringing it back to the council.
Council members Lori Braucks and Lisa Leifeld agreed that the amendment could still be passed with the intention that at some point in the future the council could do a check in on how things are going.
"I feel that things don't have to go slow," Leifeld said. "I don't think this is one of those where we have to say, 'Let's stop and get some more data.' I don't know where data is going to put us six months from now."
At the end of the meeting, Council member Tina Folch, who originally voted to approve the amendment, moved to have the issue sent to the Planning Committee. The motion passed.