Committee’s tie vote means motion to allow them dies; Willhite abstains

    What would the community of Crookston look and sound like if its residents were allowed to have chickens? That's a question that will remain unanswered at least for now, after a tie vote among Crookston City Council members this week meant a motion to approve chickens was rejected.   

    Ward 2 City Council Member Dana Johnson brought up the subject during this week's Ways & Means Committee meeting after City Administrator Shannon Stassen handed out a sample ordinance on chickens for the City of Eagan.    

    "I have had a lot of people approach me about Crookston allowing its residents to raise chickens," said Johnson. "So many cities are already doing it, even in the metro area and they aren't experiencing many problems. Younger generations want to do this and we want them to stay here."    

    Stassen has been testing the waters on the subject with the council for several weeks, saying that the growing desire among people to eat healthier foods that are grown/raised closer to home means the council has to have a matter-of-fact discussion on the matter.   

    At Large Council Member Wayne Melbye asked, "Will the people that want chickens have to have a permit?"   

   "There are some people that already do have chickens in town illegally," responded Stassen. "If you look at the sample ordinance, there is a license fee and other stipulations that go along with it, like only having a certain amount and no roosters so we don't have any unwanted wake-up calls."    

    Johnson pointed out that many people like to know where their food is coming from and want to be more organic. "They help with wood ticks and mosquitoes too," she added.    

    After a few jokes around the table including Ward 3 Council Member Gary Willhite asking, "Who's going to go count chickens?", Johnson motioned for the City of Crookston to allow chickens.    

    Melbye seconded the motion and added, "If we're going to start doing this, we need to make rules and have someone enforce them. Set the example."    

    The motion did not pass after a tie vote of 4-4. Voting yes were Johnson, Melbye, Ward 4 Council Member Hector Santellanes and Ward 1 Tom Jorgens. Voting no were Mayor Dave Genereux, At Large Council Member Bob Quanrud, Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten and Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook.   

    "I'm not excited about potential problems," Genereux said.   

    Willhite abstained from voting, saying he wanted more information.