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Council approves permit for Karen Baptist Church

The Worthington City Council on Monday approved a request from the Worthington Karen Baptist Church to use property located along West Gateway Drive/Nobles County 57 to construct and operate a church.

A large number of congregation members filled the council chambers for the meeting. The property on which the church will be located was previously owned by the city before being sold to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which has since purchased the former Globe building in downtown Worthington.. Since the Karen Baptist Church wishes to construct a church with a slightly different site plan, it needed a new conditional use permit.

After council voted unanimously to approve the permit, the contingent from the Karen Baptist Church took several minutes to thank council members and take a group picture with them.

Regarding an additional conditional use permit, council members opted to table a request to Ron Prins – who owns Ron’s Repair at 2385 Minnesota 60 – that allows for an approximately 150 feet x 182 feet expansion to the existing building. Comments from the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the permit request were not received until after the March 7 meeting of the Worthington Planning Commission, during which the CUP was recommended for approval by council.

In other business Monday, the council also approved a new District 518 ballfield maintenance agreement that will have District 518 pay the city of Worthington $10,600, a 5% increase from 2022.

JBS Fieldhouse Manager Cory Greenway gave a brief presentation and answered questions from council members on how operations at the new facility have been going thus far. Two separate change orders for the fieldhouse were also approved -- for $19,294.73 and $45,979.03 – after submission by Tri-State General Contracting.

Also Monday night, the Worthington City Council heard a formal request Monday night from a local resident who’s asking the city to make changes a local ordinance that would allow chickens to be kept within the city.

Tony Vetsch of Worthington is hoping council members will amend the current ordinance, which lists chickens as a prohibited species within city limits. The council took no action on the request, other than stating that research would be done on what a potential change may or may not entail before opting whether or not to move forward.

During his presentation to council, Vetsch cited the rising costs of goods in general, noting that egg prices average out at $4.25 a dozen. He also said that he and his family like to be as self-sufficient as possible, and explained he’s done research on regulations in multiple other communities.

Minneapolis, Vetsch said, has a policy that allows chickens, with regulations including a permitting requirement and the allowing of up to six hens in residential coops with no roosters. Chickens are also required to be in the rear of the property and there are also regulations pertaining to odor control, he added.

Sioux Falls allows up to six chickens without a permit, Vetsch said, with other regulations being part of the related ordinance. A past visit by Vetsch to Portland, Oregon, also revealed that raising chickens is allowed there, too.

While noting that dogs create many more problems than chickens do – including noise and waste concerns – Vetsch said his proposal for a revised ordinance would include the allowing of up to six hens and no roosters, and up to 10 with neighbor approval. Chickens would have to be in a penned cage, he said, and a regulation could also be put in place pertaining to smell.

Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson noted that written changes to an ordinance would need to be made, followed by three required readings in individual city council meetings. He said it’s a roughly two-month process after council elects to move forward.

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