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Dardenne Prairie ordinance could harken back to city’s rural roots

Backyard ChickenSomething fowl may be happening in Dardenne Prairie.

The city has become the latest in St. Charles County to confront the issue of backyard chickens. The city’s Board of Aldermen discussed changing its municipal code at a workshop on Aug. 5 to accommodate more residents who want to raise chickens.

Mayor David Zucker said last week that the issue came up because of a complaint – the only one of its kind – from a property owner about chickens next door. He said there is a conflict in provisions in the city’s municipal code, which allow chickens and other animals the city’s R1-A residential zoning district, and the city’s animal regulations.

The regulations now prohibit chickens and certain animals like pigeons, doves, ducks and geese on parcels smaller than 3 acres. Most subdivision homes are on smaller lots.

At a work session, the board discussed amending the city’s code to allow residents to raise chickens on parcels of less than 3 acres. Properties in the R1-A zoning district that are more than 3 acres are exempt.

The amended bill would allow up to six chickens on smaller lots “with adequate care, control and shelter provided.”  Residents can keep more than six hatching chicks for two months. But crowing roosters and birds of a different feather may be out of luck.

Residents would not be allowed to keep or house pigeons, doves, ducks, geese or roosters on smaller lots within the city under the proposed amended ordinance. Separate ordinances regulating noise and order also would apply.

The board tabled the ordinance until its Aug. 19 meeting to allow for more public input.

Zucker said the keeping of chickens harkens back to the city’s rural roots. Until subdivisions arrived in recent years, much of the area that now is Dardenne Prairie included farms and large parcels of property where chickens were common.

The amended bill states that residents for many years kept chickens on properties of less than 3 acres and the city “seeks to maintain a harmonious balance of modern suburban life with Dardenne Prairie’s rural heritage.”

Backyard chicken issues also have emerged in recent months in O’Fallon and St. Charles, where strict regulations against them have not loosened. St. Peters also restricts residential chickens.

In an email to residents, Zucker characterized the workshop discussion between board members and residents attending as thoughtful, respectful and helpful “with a minimum of chicken puns.”

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