Fountain City Council to put chicken ordinance on this year’s ballot

By : 
Bretta Grabau

For the past several months, the hot topic around town and in the Fountain City Council chambers has been whether or not to allow chickens into the city limits, changing the current farm animal ordinance, which prevents them. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, the council asked the city attorney, Dwight Luhmann, to compile a question to put on the election ballot to allow the chicken issue to be decided by Fountain residents.

At the previous meeting, the council had approved a motion to hold a public meeting for the citizens to learn more about what has been requested of the city regarding the chickens — how many, what the residents are intending to do with them and their excrement and any other questions the residents may have. This was done with the assumption that a conditional use permit would be applied for the chicken coop. However, Luhmann informed the council this “use” is not included in the “conditional uses” the permit allows. Hence, the council rescinded its previous motion.

When asked what changing an ordinance would entail, Luhmann noted there were two ways to deal with it. The first was to have a public hearing with the pros and cons of the issue. The second was to have the Planning and Zoning committee look at the potential ordinance and come back to the City Council with a recommendation.

However, changing the ordinance would have to be a carefully looked at process as well as could be a costly matter.

Council Member Jim Schott asked about possibly putting the question on the ballot for the election in November. Luhmann noted the council could do this, but there would be some drawbacks. Some residents could want to see a sample ordinance and know exactly what it would entail.

Due to the council hearing opinions from residents for one side of the issue and those interested in the chickens also hearing support from other residents, the council felt it was better to let the community vote yes or no to help the council know which way to go.

The deadline for submitting this question to the state to be put on the ballot is Aug. 14. It will be asking the Fountain residents to vote yes or no if the city council should consider changing the farm animal ordinance to allow chickens, but no other poultry, into the city limits.

Fountain Pub Crawl

City Clerk Rhonda Flattum presented a proposal to the council from some residents about putting together a pub crawl, where businesses or residents would host spots to purchase alcohol around town, on Saturday, Oct. 27. For about $20 per ticket, those who would participate in the crawl would be able to walk to each station and have a drink before moving on. At each station, the participants would have their punch card punched.

The thought was to have each stop have a specific theme for people to experience. The proceeds would be a donation towards the 150th anniversary celebration next year.

The council saw no problem with the proposal if there are no legal issues with it.

Other business

John DeGeorge, captain at the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department and currently running for the office of sheriff, introduced himself to the city council members during the meeting. He gave a history of his 21 years at the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department and his journey to decide to run for sheriff.

On Sunday, Sept. 16, Karst Brewing is planning to host a Fresh Hops Event, which was held last year as well. The intent is to block off the street from the Karst corner to the beginning of the alley, though not blocking the alley. The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 23. The council was okay with the event and use of the street.

The agreement with Valley Design regarding the wastewater treatment plan has being going on for a long time, and the engineers have gone through it as well. Flattum noted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has also looked through the agreement, but inquired if the city had a phosphorous management plan in place. The council did agree the plan should be prepared, and asked the city engineering firm of WSB to write up the management plan as well as state what the limitations are.

A septic tank at 301 West County Road 8 has been found to be a bit higher than the pipe going to it, about an inch to an inch and a half. Schott noted this is by no means the fault of the resident. Mayor Richard Kujath also commented it would be cheaper to get a new tank, but the big question rests with the outgoing pipe. Its position will not be determined until the tank is removed.

The city will be selling the 2005 Chevy two-wheel drive pickup and will be requesting sealed bids, once the city has received its new vehicle.

The council also approved a code of conduct policy for public meetings.