Ypsilanti Township woman must give up Waffle the rooster, judge rules
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Updated: This story was updated at 5:39 p.m. to include information and comments from Mike Radzik,Ypsilanti Township's director of community standards.
Waffle the rooster is more poultry than pet, a judge ruled Wednesday.
“We lost. We’re heartbroken. We’re devastated,” a sobbing Kendra Wiedbusch told AnnArbor.com by telephone after the ruling in 14-B District Court.
Judge Charles Pope ruled that by keeping the rooster at her home, Wiedbusch was in violation of an ordinance that prohibits people from having farm animals on parcels of five acres or smaller in Ypsilanti Township.
Wiedbusch argued that Waffle was more of a pet than a farm animal, partly because he didn’t lay eggs. When she was written a ticket and went to court to fight it, a magistrate agreed with her.
Pope, though, interpreted the ordinance differently and said that Waffles was indeed considered poultry and therefore not allowed to live on Wiedbusch’s property on Hull Avenue near Harris Road and Grove Road, which is not five acres.
At the earlier informal hearing, the magistrate ruled that no farming activity was going on at the residence. But that was only the first part of the ordinance.
“There was another part of the ordinance defining poultry,” Wiedbusch said.
Mike Radzik, Ypsilanti Township’s director of community standards, said the second part of the ordinance also stated that the raising of animals, livestock or poultry was not allowed.
A debate over if Waffle was poultry or not ensued. Wiedbusch testified because Waffle was a rooster and not a hen, Waffle was not technically poultry.
"She didn't feel she was raising poultry," Radzick said.
In the end, the judge did not agree in part because it could open up the possibility of people trying to have animals like bulls for pet, according to Radzick.
"The judge essentially found they were raising poultry," he added. "I think the judge, after reading the evidence, came to the correct decision. It's not sanitary. It's a nuisance in a small-knit neighborhood like that."
Radzick said an average sized lot in the neighborhood is .15 acres, far from the five acres needed to have farm animals.
Despite ruling against her, Wiedbusch said the judge was very kind. The neighbors on hand to testify against her, on the other hand, were not. Weidbuch said the prosecution had three of Wiedbusch’s neighbors on hand to testify.
“They were so mean. They made me feel so bad,” Weidbusch said.
Neighbor complaints about the rooster is what brought the matter to court in the first place.
So what’s next for Waffle?
“I’m confident I’ll find someplace wonderful for him to go,” Weidbusch.
The judge fined Weidbusch $100, but will waive it if Waffle is relocated within a week. Radzick said an ordinance officer will come to the house next Wednesday to make sure Waffle is no longer there.