Cloquet residents may soon be able to get farm fresh eggs in their backyards.

The Cloquet Planning Commission recommended a change to the city’s zoning ordinance that would allow chickens to be kept on larger properties during its meeting Monday, Oct. 13.

The changes to the ordinance would allow residents to keep chickens on lots that are at least a quarter acre in size in any residential zoning district in Cloquet. Currently, chickens are only allowed on properties that are zoned farm residential.

Cloquet City Planner and Zoning Administrator Al Cottingham worked with other city staff to draft an ordinance that would allow up to five laying hens on properties in the other four types of zones in the city, even in the multiple-family R-3 district.

Chickens would be limited in the R-3 districts to single-family dwellings, Cottingham said. Other restrictions include:

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  • Chickens are not allowed to roam the area freely;

  • Chickens are not to be raised for meat within the city and are not to be slaughtered in a residential zone;

  • Coops are required to be a secure and well-ventilated structure with a roof; and

  • No coop and fenced enclosure can be located closer than 25 feet to a residential dwelling on adjacent lots.

To obtain a license, residents would need to obtain the approval of 75% of the property owners or occupants living within 100 feet of their lot and pay an initial licensing fee of $50. An annual renewal fee of $25 is also required.

Commissioner Uriah Wilkinson was concerned about how Cottingham and Building Official Matt Munter would enforce violations and if they would have enough time for the task. Cottingham said there are just a few residents looking to apply for the license.

“The ones we’re hearing about that are interested in this is maybe a half a dozen,” Cottingham said. “I’m not sure, but the numbers may go up from that. But typically, I would think if they’re going to have (chickens), they’re probably taking care of them versus somebody who thinks they want to try it and find out it’s more of an issue for them.”

The issue of allowing chickens in a larger area of Cloquet has come before the City Council several times in the past, most recently in 2019. The last time it came up, the council was not interested in making a change. However, over the summer Cloquet resident Emily Tracy started a petition that gained more than 1,000 signatures asking the council to amend its zoning ordinances to allow chickens throughout the city.

Tracy spoke to the council in August about changing the ordinance and following a Sept. 1 work session, the City Council asked the Planning Commission to work with Cottingham to draft a new ordinance to consider.

The proposed changes to the city’s zoning ordinance will come before the Cloquet City Council during its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.