Entries Tagged 'Urban Agriculture' ↓

The ‘Chicken & Goats’ ordinance finally makes it to council

Who wants to slaughter something so cute (and really not that tasty)?

Here are the proposed major changes to city ordinance over keeping livestock within city limits;

NONDOMESTIC ANIMAL. Any animal that is not domestic.

Glad they cleared that one up. LOL!

(1) A maximum of six animals may be kept on personal land in the city.

Slaughter of animals is prohibited. This prohibition shall not include slaughter as part of any research, educational instruction, stockyard, or slaughterhouse.

All applications for license certificates must be accompanied by a written consent of at least 80 percent of the owners of the several descriptions of real estate situated within 100 feet of the applicant’s real estate and the appropriate fee. Upon the city’s approval of the required application, the city shall issue a license certificate. The license shall specify any restrictions, limitations, conditions, or prohibitions required by the city. The license may be modified or revoked by the city for failure to conform to such restrictions, limitations, conditions, or prohibitions including, but not limited to, noise and odor.

While I agree there should be some kind of limit to how many livestock animals you can have, and having a license, I am admantly against asking permission from your neighbors. If your animals become a nuisance, your neighbors can issue a complaint, but getting there permission is silly. Do you have to get your neighbor’s permission to repaint your house a different color? I think we are going down a slippery slope if we all this part of the ordinance to stand.

Get your ‘CHICKEN’ ON!

Poultry Crawl planned for Sioux Falls

The First Annual Poultry Crawl is set for February 25.  Participants will enjoy a progressive dinner where with a poultry appetizer, entrée, dessert and complementary wine at East Bank downtown restaurants K’s, Sanaa’s, and Josiah’s.  The event will start at K’s at 6:00p.m.  Tickets are $25 per person and must be purchased by Feb. 22.

Diners can mingle with farmers who can answer questions about how they raise and care for their poultry.   More details on the Poultry Crawl and to register, click here. Please contact Kelly Nelson at Ag United for South Dakota with questions at (605) 336-3622 or Kelly@agunited.org.

South DaCola EXCLUSIVE; Urban Ag Committee

By Detroit Lewis

The city council was presented the final findings of the Urban Ag Committee on Tuesday at the Sioux Falls city council informational meeting.

While many things were presented in a short period of time, council Head Honcho, Lady MacErpenbach decided to cut the meeting short, because, as she stated to me afterwards, “When a woman has to pee, you best get out of her way.”

But not before an intriguing conversation was had by all. Councilor Standfortruth asked Code Enforcement Czar, Shoona Limphammer, who led the Urban Ag Committee, “So were the meetings a TOTAL waste of time, or just a partial waste of time?” To which she replied, “That’s not for me to decide. But if you have over 8.0625″ of grass in your yard, I will make the decision to have the city take you to court or arrest you.”

Councilor Tex Golfing said people have different definitions about a nuisance, “Some people think white old men that still think they are living in the 1950’s are a nuisance, you may disagree. But I have seen a mad chicken, and you can bet me Councilor Starsky’s goat on a spit, they can be a bit of a nuisance.”

Starsky seemed to be confused about the line of questioning, to which he responded, “Bahhhhh.”

Councilor Andyland Jr. brought up pot belly pigs, “So which are they, Shoona? Food or Pets.” Limphammer responded, “That all depends. Have you ever licked the belly of a pot belly pig?” Andyland responded, “Well there was this softball tournament I attended in the South that . . . ah . . . nevermind.”

Councilor Diamond Jim Antiman felt it was your neighbors that should decide everything about your property, “I think you should have a 100% of your neighbor’s approval before you get chickens. Heck I call my neighbors and have them help me pick out my Christmas lights, etc. Heck yesterday, my one neighbor picked out my socks and underwear for me.”

When the topic of how many eggs a chicken can produce in a week came up, councilor Soo Agrisans says, “Is that all?! Maybe the Phillips Avenue Diner needs to get some chickens, just as long as they don’t take up any of my booth space.”

Councilor Craig Jamisun felt that more in depth discussion would happen when the topic comes in front of the land committee. “There will be plenty of time for me to stand on the fence and watch Standfortruth ask endless questions to which no one will answer, Antiman to continue to be in property rights denial, and Golfing to ask the African word definition of a rabbit.”

Final Urban Ag meetings

These will be the last two committee meetings before this goes to the Council. Both meetings are in the evening so that more citizens have an opportunity to attend.

Monday, September 10th, 6:30 to 8:30, Carnegie Town Hall

Monday, September 24th, 6:30 to 8:30, Carnegie Town Hall

Last chance for public input on chickens, goats, etc. before this goes to the full Council for a vote.

‘Some’ elected officials won’t touch snowgates with a 10 Foot pole . . .

Maybe because they are ‘Chickens’

Urban Ag meeting today at 3:30

Urban Agriculture Task Force

3:30 PM

Carnegie Town Hall

235 West 10th Street

Thumbs Up; Public Input during the Urban Ag Task Force meetings

I don’t give credit very often to public officials or the city, but I have to give a BIG THUMBS UP to the Urban Ag Task force for allowing public testimony.

Not only does it allow citizens to voice their opinion on a certain topic, it helps them to shape policy. I couldn’t imagine how these new ordinances and regulations would turn out if councilors wouldn’t allow public input and just did what they wanted to, that would be a travesty. I hope they continue to allow the public input right up until they vote on the new ordinances.

Q & A w/ Urban Ag committee member Wyatt Urlacher

Wyatt, please explain your involvement with Urban Agriculture in the city of Sioux Falls.

My wife and I moved to Sioux Falls in February of 2010. We bought a house with a large yard in the Lacey Park neighborhood and, as soon as the weather was nice enough, tore out a large chunk of our backyard and planted a garden. We also did some research and found that it’s legal to keep poultry in city limits (so long as they don’t constitute a nuisance). Shortly after, we built a coop behind our garage and added a mixed flock of six chickens.

Being relative newcomers, we wanted to meet other people raising chickens in town who were also interested in urban agriculture. We didn’t know many people, so I started a blog in hopes of connecting with others. Initially, the plan was to meet enough backyard chicken owners to organize a Tour de Coop, which is basically an opportunity for the public to get an educational, first-hand look at urban chicken coops and gardens. A few months passed and I got a call from a reporter at the Argus Leader asking if I’d like to make a comment about the city’s plans to review the urban agriculture ordinance. At the time I wasn’t following city politics and didn’t know that this was happening. I contacted the city’s zoning enforcement officer who was planning to make a presentation about the topic at the next Land Use Committee meeting. I sent her a research paper from the University of New Mexico comparing 13 different communities which had recently-enacted pro-chicken ordinances.  In reply, I received an invitation to provide testimony at the next Land Use meeting.

Through my blog and accompanying facebook page, I asked others who care about the issue to also attend the meeting and provide public input. We had a great turn out and I think we sent the council a clear message that there are a lot of people invested in this issue. We provided testimony about the benefits of urban poultry and asked that the city leave the ordinance as is.  The upshot was that Chairman Rolfing asked Zoning to bring together a task force made up of community members, councilors, and representatives from various city departments to study the issue and make recommendations.

Shortly after, a number of the residents who attended that night’s council meeting organized to establish a community action group now called Homegrown Sioux Falls. We teamed up with Dakota Rural Action and focused on lobbying the task force to craft a fair chicken ordinance and on educating the public about the benefits of responsible urban poultry raising. So far the group has hosted two events—a Chicken Mingle and screening of the film “Mad City Chickens”—and is currently planning the Tour de Coop for this summer, 2012.

As a member of the Urban Ag task force do you feel the proposed changes have been positive or negative, in other words, has there been progress or do you feel there is more of a push by the city to be more controlling?

I think there has been a lot of misinformation about the goal of the task force, especially regarding gardens. I’ve heard from some people who are worried the city is looking to restrict backyard gardening, etc. The reality is that the task force is looking for ways to enhance urban agriculture. And, in the community gardening discussion at least, I think that’s exactly what has happened.

I think the new community garden proposal is a positive step for the city to take and should be lauded by urban ag advocates. As it stands currently, community gardening on vacant lots where agriculture is the “primary use” is actually illegal. This would apply to gardens like the one on Cliff Avenue across from Avera. The current task force proposal, which is in the process of review, legalizes this type of gardening and makes a clear statement that the city supports the expansion of urban agriculture and is working to provide land access to low-income populations.

The community garden proposal allows for on-site rain water collection, composting, and the planting of cover crops. The only criticism I have is the language requiring a 5 ft setback for garden beds from property lines. I feel that’s unnecessarily restrictive.

The second issue that the task force is going to attempt to address is the keeping of animals. We’ve only had two meetings focused on this topic so far, so I can’t really provide much insight into how the final proposal will look; however, I am fairly confident that because there are so many passionate people involved in the process, the ordinance regulating chickens will end up being a progressive one.

I think moving forward, as discussion continues about how residents keep animals in town, the task force should continue to see this as an issue of people’s right to feed themselves. Criticisms that backyard chickens will negatively affect property values or resale potential don’t hold water—and miss the point entirely. First of all, many residents, especially people in my generation, see backyard chickens and chicken coops as an asset when considering purchasing a property. Secondly, if you ask people in my part of town what’s the biggest blow to their home’s resale potential, I’m willing to be they would all mention the same thing: the smell from a pork processing plant that’s located over a mile away.

In contrast to this, I find it extremely ironic that anyone would even bring up backyard chickens in a discussion about property values. It’s easy to see the pork plant as the elephant in the room. Given that, I think this discussion really comes down to a clear choice between the people’s right to produce their own food, on a small-scale, or a continued collective dependence on the industrial model that requires massive processing plants like the one we have here in Sioux Falls (which, incidentally, has  earned countless environmental citations and plays a pivotal role in the Big Sioux’s ranking as the country’s 13th dirtiest river).

I know one of the proposals is to limit the number of chickens you can have in your yard and getting permission from your neighbor. What do you think of those proposals?

AND, doesn’t getting permission from your neighbor go against property rights?

I think that putting a limit on the number of chickens can be a good thing if it’s done properly. It doesn’t help the cause when people keep too many birds or are irresponsible. But, the idea or requiring residents to obtain their neighbor’s approval is bad policy which I feel goes against the fundamental principles our country was founded on.

Your neighbor’s opinions are completely subjective. There’s no consistency to an ordinance that is dependent a community’s psychographic make-up. I feel that as a home owner and tax-paying resident, I should be granted the choice to do what I want with my property without asking my neighbor’s permission—so long as it’s within the law. If my neighbor wants to paint his house bright purple, he’s free to do that. It might not be the color I would have chosen, but I understand that he is an adult who pays his property taxes and has the right to paint his house whatever color he likes.

Back to the number-of-birds question, I think it should be dependent on the size of your property. Just like ranchers know the environmental importance of ratios of cows per acre of pasture, city residents should be able to raise chickens on their property as size allows. I think people get upset about regulations when they see them as being completely arbitrary. If it was decided to cap the number of chickens at, say, six . . . well, where did that number come from? There’s no reason or logic behind it. There’s no way to explain it to people. I feel that there’s really no need for that kind of arbitrary limit when you can just as easily base the number on lot size.

As city councilor elect Kermit Staggers pointed out to me, there are already noise ordinances in place that can limit how many ‘noisy’ animals you can have. Do you agree with that or do you think there should be other ordinances in place for people who keep chickens?

Initially, I asked the council to keep the ordinance as is.  So no, as a property owner, I don’t see a need to change anything. You’re right that the city does have a noise ordinance already in place.  But from enforcement’s standpoint, and to settle potential disputes between neighbors, I can definitely see the need to clarify the language. Who decides what constitutes a nuisance? I don’t know how to answer that, and I’m not sure the city does either. I think as long as the ordinance is written properly, it can be a good thing for both chicken owners and their neighbors.

As a friend pointed out to me, if the city wants to limit the number of chickens a person could have, what’s next, limiting the amount of wildlife your yard and forage attracts?

The old slippery slope? As much as I appreciate your friend’s comparison, I’m not sure it really applies here. The city already limits the number of dogs and cats you can own. Regulating wildlife would be pretty much impossible because there’s no way to prove how many animals you’re attracting.  Again, I feel a balance can be achieved that respects both chicken keepers and non-chicken keepers alike. I don’t think crafting an ordinance that addresses the number of chickens you can keep in your backyard will somehow send the city down a regulatory slippery slope.

What would be your suggestions, if any, in changes to city ordinance in regards to urban agriculture and poultry in particular. In other words, if you wrote the new ordinances, how would they read?

Again, I would personally be okay with leaving the ordinance as is. But I do see the city’s predicament and their need to clarify.  I’ve talked to quite a few people about what they would like to see in an ordinance, and there seems to be consensus that if a limit is going to be put on the number of chickens you can raise, it needs to take property size into consideration. For example, there are properties in my part of town that are close to an acre. It doesn’t make sense to say those residents can only have as many birds as residents with a 6000 square foot lot. The bigger your lot, the more birds you can have—to me and a lot of other people, that seems like the most sensible approach.

I don’t think the city should require any sort of fee or make people jump through the hoops of a “permitting” process. That just creates bureaucracy and disempowers residents who are trying to be more self-sufficient. These are the residents the city should be trying hard to support. They are trying to turn their properties into units of production. If everyone in Sioux Falls did that, think of the economic and social impact it would have on our community.Keep in mind, for as long as Sioux Falls has been a city, people have been raising chickens in their backyards. If the council wants to enact any changes regarding the way people do this, they will do well to remember that those new regulations will effectively impact people’s ability to feed themselves. When you mess with someone’s breakfast, it’s personal. So I urge caution. But I’m also optimistic about what the ordinance will end up looking like. The task force is made up of open-minded individuals, who I’m sure will come up with a proposal that is not needlessly restrictive. But, in order to do that we need thoughtful input and participation from forward-thinking residents who understand that self-sufficiency and sustainability are the future. If you care about this issue, please come to the meetings and make your voice heard.


This is an awesome story about community involvement and organization. More people are becoming wise to the evils of code enforcement in our town and now there is serious backlash. Hopefully the West Sioux neighborhood will form an organization to and push back on the Events Center. Remember people, this thing isn’t built yet, and the bonds haven’t been taken out.

Let’s talk chickens and neighborhoods

“Why did the chicken cross the road? To get out of the city limits.”

There are two important meetings coming up. One is tomorrow on urban agriculture.

The other is the All Saints Neighborhood Association meeting on January 30.

You must live in this area (click on map below) to be a part of this exclusive group 🙂