Rockford council gets fowl education

Discussion about allowing chickens to be raised within the city was continued at the July 9 meeting of the Rockford City Council.

Earlier in the year, the council addressed complaints brought forward by residents regarding noise and odor at residential properties that were raising fowl. The council amended an ordinance to clearly identify what animals could be raised in residential areas of the city and which could not. At the council’s June 11 meeting, residents objecting to the change addressed the council with their concerns and asked that they reconsider the action.

Rockford residents Meda and Charlie Rogich told the council that they had been raising chickens while being respectful of their neighbors, and with their support, and felt that they were being unjustly held accountable for the actions of others. Charlie Rogich said he’d gotten approval by the city and had invested thousands of dollars on his birds and their housing. Meda Rogich had gathered a significant amount of research on the issue of raising urbanized fowl, most notably documentation provided by the City of Golden Valley regarding city code it adopted recently regarding this issue. The council agreed to look at the information and bring the topic back for further discussion at its July 9 meeting.

Meda Rogich took the podium to restate her family’s position and asked if their property could be grandfathered in since they had the chickens and no complaints lodged against them at the time the ordinance was amended. The city’s attorney, Mike Couri, looked at the ordinances and reported back that grandfathering would not work in this situation since neither the nuisance or zoning ordinances supported raising chickens in areas zoned residential to begin with. He said that even if a resident gets approval by staff, ordinances trump the issue and can be enforced.

Meda Rogich asked Mayor Renee Hafften if she or the council were leaning one way or the other on this matter, and Hafften replied that she had invested several hours researching web sites and, because she found information supporting and opposing the raising of fowl in residential districts, found herself going back and forth, remaining undecided at this time.

Councilor Rick Martinson asked several questions of both Meda and Charlie Rogich regarding how many chickens they had, how much acreage they had and where the coop was located. The couple currently has 11 chickens and lives on a lot that is just under an acre. The coop structure is covered and lies close to the property line the back part of their lot, a spot that their neighbor helped pick out. It is a mobile structure and can be moved if needed.

Councilors Jeannette Graner and Todd Wenz, as well as Martinson, seem amenable to consideration of allowing restricted raising of fowl as long as lot size and the number of birds allowed it to be done in a way that did not encroach or disturb other residents. Councilor Denise Kesanen stated that she wasn’t sure chickens belonged in residential Rockford areas and noted that several surrounding communities did not allow them.

The matter will now be referred to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, who will be asked to formulate a recommendation for the council.

In other news, Dennis Peterson, Rockford Public Works Supervisor, presented the council with a proposal to go out for bids for seal coating Maple St., Walnut St. and part of the city’s trail system for an estimated cost of $36,400. Some of the city’s streets are scheduled for improvements that coincide with water main improvements that require them to be dug up.

For those that need work, but are not a part of this schedule, Peterson is recommending a new product that will increase the life of them. He explained that instead of a regular seal coating that consists of oil under rock, the new process includes a coat of oil, then rock, then oil. This reduces the amount of loose rock and increases the life of the roadway. He added that several communities and Wright County are using this product/method and are giving it good reviews. The cost will be covered by street CIP funds. The council unanimously approved going out for bids on this project.

Also at this meeting, Audra Etzel, City of Rockford Deputy Clerk, was recognized for five years of service. She has received her Municipal Clerk certification and, through hard work, is now close to receiving International Clerk certification. Etzel serves as Vice President of Region 4 of the Municipal Clerk and Finance Officers Association serving 11 counties. She’s headed up two elections, is the Planning and Zoning liaison and handles most of the city’s communication with residents through email blasts, the city’s web site and its Facebook page. Mayor Hafften congratulated her for her achievements and thanked her for her loyalty.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Rockford City Council is Tuesday, July 23, at 7 p.m. at 6031 Main St.


Contact Linda Herkenhoff at [email protected]