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Proposed ordinance may target aesthetics in Farmington

Is your neighbor's house an eyesore? Well, there may be some help coming your way.

At a Feb. 25 workshop, the Farmington City Council asked city administrator David McKnight to start the process of writing a new ordinance to regulate the exterior condition of homes in the community. Assistant city planner Tony Wippler has been charged with developing the ordinance.

The ordinance comes about because last May, the city received several complaints regarding the condition of a handful of older homes in downtown neighborhoods. At the time, McKnight and Farmington building official Ken Lewis set out to talk to the owners of the blighted homes to see if they would clean up their homes' exteriors.

The city of Farmington does not have an ordinance to regulate the exterior condition of homes, but for the most part, residents who were contacted last year complied with the city's requests. However, the city is still receiving complaints about one downtown home. Farmington resident Dick Orndorff attended the Feb. 19 council meeting to voice his concerns.

Farmington has some structure when it comes to housing codes, Wippler said, but it doesn't cover the issue of aesthetics.

"The way the code is now, unless it's a life safety or refuse (garbage) issue, there's not much we can do," Wippler said.

Wippler has just started researching what other cities do to regulate the appearance of housing in their communities. Burnsville has a policy in place, but it also has staff assigned to monitor and address issues as things come up. A new ordinance could mean having to assign staff to do the same here, Wippler said.

When Wippler is finished with his research, he'll work with the planning commission to draw up an ordinance. He figures the ordinance will be ready for the council sometime this summer.

"I would think council wants to see it sooner than later," he said.

Chicken ordinance

The Farmington Planning Commission will look at another new ordinance next Tuesday, when Wippler brings forward a recommendation on a new ordinance to allow chickens on residential property within city limits.

The planning commission will see an updated version of a 2011 ordinance proposal that would allow for chickens to be kept in coops on residential properties of 10,000 square feet or more within the city limits. Planning commissioners approved the 2011 version, but city council members defeated it on a 3-2 vote.

The item came back in January, though, when a group of four Farmington 4H students asked city council members to reconsider. Wippler has made some modifications to the proposal to reflect council wishes, and will present the new version at the March 12 planning commission meeting.

He has also notified the four middle school students of the meeting.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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