City to Consider Permitting Bees and Chickens

Community development is presenting changes to the Unified Development Code and associated ordinances related to the vision and goals in the updated Comprehensive Plan 2036: the allowance of urban agriculture inclusive of keeping chickens and bees as noted in ANR1.


ANR1: Agriculture & Natural Resources Goal 1:   Protect and enhance the natural settings unique to the character of the area in and around Hiawatha.

Strategy: Incorporate the preservation of agricultural uses within the city to create sustainable and resilient community.

  • The City will encourage community gardens through appropriate Council policy.
  • The City will use its zoning authority to allow limited agricultural uses such as bee keeping and housing chickens.

Urban agriculture is becoming more popular in cities throughout the United States. “Municipal Zoning for Local Foods in Iowa” published by Iowa State University contains information as to how this relates to city regulations. The cities of Marion and Cedar Rapids have both implemented rules for allowing urban agriculture focused mainly on beekeeping and the housing of chickens. Both cities require a conditional use or special use permit for each activity.

Hiawatha receives one or two requests for chicken allowances each year. The impetus for consideration of these ordinance changes is twofold. The Hiawatha Comprehensive plan indicates this opportunity should be pursued and these changes will facilitate metro uniformity in the allowance of chickens and bees.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider these ordinance changes at their regular meeting on October 23rd at 5:30 at Hiawatha City Hall.  The City Council will consider the ordinance and host a public hearing on November 1st at 5:30 at Hiawatha City Hall.  The public is invited to give input at both meetings.

165.28 Proposed beekeeping conditional use

Municipal Zoning for Local Foods in Iowa” published by Iowa State University

55A Proposed Chicken Ordinance

Backyard Beekeeping