The Ramsey City Council formed a committee to improve the ordinance that regulates everything from house pets to livestock after the council found a draft presented earlier this month to be too restrictive.

The proposed ordinance, as drafted, says, “Any animal not listed shall not be maintained in the City except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”

That concerned Council Member Chelsee Howell.

“Basically, if we don’t enumerate what animals are allowed, they’re not allowed,” Howell said. “So, according to this ordinance ... my understanding is I can’t even own a goldfish if we pass this.”

City Attorney Fritz Knaak confirmed that, as drafted, the ordinance would prohibit any animal not listed in the chapter.

Howell suggested the council form a committee to make the ordinance easier to read, with different regulations, to avoid making residents upset.

Planning technician Brian McCann updated the council Nov. 9 on the city’s work on updating the ordinance thus far.

Currently the city regulates the number of “animal units” that may be kept on properties of certain sizes. Units are assigned based on how much waste an animal produces, ranging from a cow at 1.5 units to a chicken at .04 units.

The proposed update instead lists the number of specific types of animals allowed based on property size. The goal is to more clearly state how many of certain animals a resident can keep on their property, McCann said.

Other changes in the draft update include:

• Listing a wider range of animals than existing city code by adding mini cows, mini pigs, bison, emus, rabbits and fainting goats.

• Allowing more chickens on smaller lots.

• Allowing two roosters by zoning permit on properties of at least 2.5 acres.

• Requiring a zoning permit for beekeeping, instead of a license.

• Requiring a kennel license for five dogs, rather than four.

• Regulating ducks in the same manner as chickens.

Earlier this year, a young boy named Liam asked the council to consider allowing ducks on residential property, because his family wouldn’t allow him to get a duck unless the council amended the animal ordinance to include ducks.

Ramsey currently allows ducks with a nontraditional animal license that has a fee. The council gave staff the OK Nov. 9 to send Liam and his family the application for the license and waive the fee.

“We need to get Liam his ducks,” Council Member Ryan Heineman said.

As for the ordinance update, Council Member Debra Musgrove recommended that to avoid complications the city shouldn’t list out every animal that’s allowed.

She also brought up concern over the fact that neither the current nor proposed ordinance limits the number of cats on a property.

Council Member Matt Woestehoff said the drafted ordinance seems to be aimed more toward animals kept outside, rather than inside someone’s home. He has a hedgehog at home that would be rendered illegal if the ordinance were adopted as written.

“I think that’s a defining factor that would be good to outline,” Woestehoff said.

The council created a committee with members Howell, Musgove and Dan Specht. The committee expects to have the ordinance back to the council in early December.


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