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Planners OK chickens in public institution zone

The issue of chickens within the city limits clucked its way back into Hastings City Hall Monday night, when the Hastings Planning Commission approved an ordinance change that would allow them on properties zoned public institutions.

Under the ordinance, a minimum of one acre would be required to keep up to four chickens, and four more could be added with each acre beyond that. A previous proposal defeated by the Hastings City Council earlier this month would have allowed chickens in residential zones, but the current proposal limits them to the public institutions zone, which includes Hastings High School, the Pleasant Hill Library, Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, the Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings and Regina Medical Center. Most other schools in Hastings are in residential zones.

The only request for a license to keep chickens to come into the city as of Monday came from the LeDuc Historic Estate, which hopes to begin keeping chickens next year as a living exhibit that would interpret the agricultural side of the LeDuc family's life. Under the proposal, the LeDuc would be allowed to keep up to 16 chickens because the property is more than four acres in size.

The ordinance will now move to the Hastings City Council for approval Sept. 8. At its meeting earlier this month in which the keeping of chickens in residential zones was defeated, the majority of the council expressed its support for chickens being allowed on properties zoned as public institutions.