Worthington Council asked to consider allowing chickens within city limits

City ordinance currently prevents keeping chickens on a residential property in Worthington, but one resident is requesting the council consider changes.


WORTHINGTON — Chickens could be coming home to roost within Worthington’s city limits, or at least that’s the hope of one resident who brought the issue before the City Council during its Monday night meeting.

“Local governments are faced with a number of outside forces that are raising concerns beyond typical one- and two-year budget cycles,” said City administrator Steve Robinson.
The matter was tabled during the March 13 meeting of the Worthington City Council, due to new information from MnDOT that had come up after the commission had recommended approval of the permit.
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Currently, city ordinance prevents keeping a variety of animals on a residential property, including “barnyard animals,” such as chickens. With egg prices on the rise, however, resident Tony Vetsch proposed to council members that Worthington alter the ordinance to allow people to keep hens on their property, with a series of potential provisions.

“As we all know the rising price of goods, including groceries, has reached historical levels over the last several years with the rise of inflation,” said Vetsch. “Egg prices have averaged out at about $4.25.”

Multiple cities across Minnesota allow residents to have chicken coops within residential areas, including Minneapolis, Duluth, Cottage Grove and Farmington, among others. However, in allowing chickens, many of the cities also attached certain restrictions, like limits on the number of hens, prohibiting roosters, and requiring a permit or written approval from neighbors.

In line with these restrictions, Vetsch proposed Worthington adopt an ordinance that would cap the number of hens at six, or 10 with a neighbor's approval, that would be kept in an independent coop not visible from the street. Additionally, Vetsch proposed a fee-free permitting process for permission to have a chicken coop.


“I’d like to look into it a little bit more,” said councilman Chad Cummings. “I don't know that there's anything that ... would make me vote for it or necessarily against this right now, but I think in due diligence I need to hear from other people.”

City Administrator Steve Robinson said that if the council were to amend the current ordinance, it would require three readings in order to become official, as is standard procedure for amendments to city code. With that, the council moved to have city staff conduct additional research into the matter.

Change orders

Also on Monday, the council approved two separate change orders, submitted by Tri-State General Contracting, for the JBS Fieldhouse. The first change order includes providing additional card readers, cameras and wireless points, as well as relocating the fire strobes, horns and netting switches.

“Most of these things in this change order were things that were on separate contracts,” said Public Works Director Todd Wietzema. “We just hired Tri-States’ electricians while they're on-site to do the upgrades rather than us bringing in a different electrician.”

The total cost of the change order is $19,294.

A second change order, also with Tri-State General Contracting, will include several exterior improvements, as well as the installation of a sub-slab vapor system under the stair storage area and the repositioning of electrical outlets. The most significant cost in this change order is soil correction work, which will total $24,634. In all, the total cost for the second change order is $45,979, bringing the total contract price for the field house project to $2,498,815.

In other news, the council:

  • Approved an application for a new off-sale beer license for Corky’s Corner, contingent on new ownership of the business.
  • Authorized a one-year renewal of a maintenance agreement between the city and District 518 for the middle school baseball complex. Worthington’s Public Works Department schedules all activities for these fields and provides maintenance, including cleaning, trash removal and field maintenance. As part of the agreement, District 518 will pay the city $10,600, a 5% increase from 2022.
  • Granted the Worthington Karen Baptist Church a conditional use permit to build on property located along Nobles County 57, following the recommended approval from the Planning Commission last week.
    Karen Church Approved.jpg
    Supporters of the Karen Baptist Church posed for a photo with city council members, moments after their request for a conditional use permit to build a church in Worthington was approved.
    Emma McNamee / The Globe
  • Tabled a request from Ron's Repair for a conditional use permit to complete a business expansion. The request was tabled after additional feedback was received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Planning Commission will have a special meeting to discuss the matter.
  • Heard an update from JBS Field House manager Cory Greenway on the facility, now seven months into its opening. Since September 2022, the field house has had over 6,000 daily users, had 250 field rentals, and collected approximately $58,000 in rental revenue for the field house. 
  • Approved a proposal extending the Municipal State Aid Street System to include West Lake Avenue to Crailsheim Road, and designate Clifton Avenue to extend the MSAS system on First Avenue north to Oxford Street. The MSAS System is limited to 20% of the street mileage within the city limits. The city has banked 2.22 miles, which is available for designation. Grand Avenue, from First Avenue to Darling Drive and west to Humiston Avenue, would be designated an MSAS route once Humiston Avenue reconstruction is completed.  
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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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