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City passes new pecking order: Sterling sets limits on chicken ownership

STERLING – It might be possible to have a chicken in every pot, but in Sterling, you can have only four in every yard. And they must be hens.

The City Council voted 5-0 Monday to amend the city animal ordinance to limit the number of chickens residents can keep on their property.

In addition to the 4-chicken limit, chicken owners must pay a $25-a-year license. Turkeys and other fowl are prohibited.

In addition, chickens must be kept 25 feet from any property line.

The previous ordinance did not limit the number of chickens a resident can own. Chickens are becoming more popular in urban settings, and some Sterling residents weren’t properly containing or cleaning up after their birds, which prompted the change.

Coventry Village delay

Also Monday, the council agreed to give WC-Sterling LLC more time to file the final plat for the 68 Coventry Village Sterling Cottages on East St. Mary’s Road with Whiteside County.

Coventry Village has 32 duplex cottages and 1 four-plex building, not all of which are occupied.

A majority of its residents and their heirs voted in December 2014 to get the deeds from WC-Sterling. The company, which said the cottages were not financially viable, said giving ownership to the residents would make the best of a bad situation. Filing bankruptcy, they contended, could result in residents being force to leave their homes.

The owners petitioned the Plan Commission in September 2016 for zoning and platting changes that would allow WC-Sterling to relinquish the deeds.

In May 2017, the council agreed to set up a special-use district for the cottages, so they would meet city code, and to amend the city zoning map reclassifying the cottages as legal and conforming properties. That was for the protection of the new owners – if a property doesn’t conform to code, a lender wouldn’t want to loan money on it, and it would be difficult to sell.

City code also requires a final plat be recorded within 3 months of City Council final approval.

It’s been 14 months, however – city staff did not receive the final plat until July 16.

All Coventry Village residents must sign off on the plat before it can be filed with the county, and the deeds can be turned over. Presumably, that process is why WC-Sterling needed the extension.

Building and Zoning Administrator Amanda Schmidt said she didn’t know why it has taken more than a year to receive the plat. WC-Sterling could not be reached for comment.


The City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave.

Go to for agendas and more information.

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