By Louis Hoglund

As the old line goes: It’s difficult to soar with the eagles, when you’re working with a bunch of … pigeons.  

Hobby racing pigeon owners  a couple months asked the city council to relax the city ordinance to allow backyard bird coops.

Councilmembers have been open to changes in the city law, which restricts  farm animals, poultry and “fowl” within city limits.  But the city has also found itself wrestling with all manner of critters over the past decade or so. “The ordinance has clashed with horses, cows, roosters, chickens–and even baby chicks, which are now allowed for retail sale in town.  

So, the council has been taking it slow and steady on the pigeon question–while also getting an education on the peculiar hobby of “racing pigeons.” 

A rough draft of ordinance changes, based in large part on a similar “pigeon law” in the city of White Bear Lake, was provided by city attorney Greg Larson.  Various conditions and restrictions were discussed at the Feb. 11 meeting.  Among them: 

• Restricting pigeon coops to single family or duplex housing–to prevent the prospect of pigeon dens behind apartment complexes. 

• Written permission from your landlord, if you live in a rented house. 

• Setback requirements, to keep pigeon coops at proper setbacks from lot lines and neighboring homes.  

• Possible limits on the total number of birds. White Bear specified a limit of 100 pigeons. 

• A modest, one-time permit and fee for backyard pigeons; possibly ten bucks. 

Before finalizing the ordinance revisions, Councilman Curt Markgraf suggested that city attorney Larson contact the city of White Bear Lake to see if they’ve experienced any issues or revoked any permits.

“We just don’t have the background with pigeons … We have no idea.  Do they go wild at midnight?”  said Markgraf, suggesting contacts to determine the experience of other municipalities.