Neighbors sue Ramsey family over farm animals

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

RAMSEY — Neighbors of an upscale neighborhood in a Twin Cities suburb are taking a family to court over its backyard brood of chickens and a potbellied pig.

Tom and Edie Harer brought the chickens to their Northfork neighborhood home in Ramsey last spring, and Peter, the pig, arrived shortly after according to a press release. The Harers received a letter about their chickens from their homeowners association in October and were sued by mid-December.

“They’re throwing a lawsuit at us, and we will be responding,” Edie Harer said.

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The association alleges that the pig, chickens and outdoor structures the animals inhabit violate Northfork’s governing documents.

Soon after the city opted to allow backyard chickens, the Northfork Homeowners Association revised its policy for animals and banned livestock, according to letters submitted to the City Council.

The Harers and other neighbors have said the association revised rules and the document containing them weren’t widely publicized until recently.

City Council officials recently granted the family a nontraditional animal license to keep the 45-pound pig, despite the association’s objections.

However, city leaders noted the license granted does not supersede the association’s pet guidelines. Homeowner rules can sometimes be “more restrictive than what the city allows,” said City Attorney Joseph Langel.

Those in favor of the chickens say fresh eggs, free pest control and waste suitable for composting are some key benefits for raising the animals. But opponents question the health effects the waste might have and worry about property value declining.