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Posted on Mon, May 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Residents focus on backyard chickens, economic development in master plan talks

By Tom Perkins

City of Ypsilanti resident Jen Whaley is in the process of buying a home and moving her family to Ypsilanti Township.

But there’s one issue - her family includes backyard chickens.

As of now, township residents aren’t allowed to have chickens or other livestock on parcels less than 5 acres.

At a public input session for the revision of Ypsilanti Township’s master plan Whaley attended on May 20, she said she was seeking a change to those rules.

Whaley said people in the city love her chickens and, contrary to the argument against them, they don’t attract rodents or make a lot of noise.

“It’s just like any other animal - if you take care of them, then you’re going to be fine,” she said.

Twice in the past 18 months, township ordinance officials have had to respond to complaints over poultry in dense residential areas. The issue drew a large number of supporters to a Board of Trustees meeting.

Township Planner Joe Lawson says he is carefully reviewing the ordinance and researching the issue.

New guidelines built into the master plan would give Lawson a way to develop a land use ordinance that would allow for chickens on smaller plots.

“Am I in favor of allowing them on less than 5 acres? Absolutely. Am I in favor of allowing them on a 50 by 100 (foot) lot? I need to do more research on it before I am comfortable with that,” he said.


Ypsilanti Township will market property it owns on Huron Street adjacent to the post office.

Tom Perkins | For

Economic development

West Willow resident Linda Mealing also attended the public input session. She liked the ideas planning officials presented for spurring commercial growth along Washtenaw Avenue, East Michigan Avenue, Whittaker Road and Ecorse Road.

The township has lost 30 percent of its taxable commercial value over the past six years.

Along Washtenaw Avenue, the principles of the Reimagine Washtenaw project are being wrapped into the township’s master plan.

The project is attempting to transition the corridor from auto-orientated development to development that encourages people to walk or ride their bicycles. Planners are envisioning dense, mixed-use development on smaller lots.

Some of those ideas are being built into re-zoning along the township’s other three main commercial corridors.

“These are gateway corridors to the community and you want them to be attractive and viable,” Lawson said. “If you enter the township via one of those corridors and it’s run down, people don’t want to stop or avoid the area all together.”

Mealing said she appreciated that planners were considering more than just motorists in their plans.

“I like the idea they have for the corridors and I like that they are considering different types of transportation, she said. “It’s friendly and inviting.”

Greg Crist had similar thoughts to Mealing.

“Those areas definitely need to change and need some new growth, so it’s good that they are seriously thinking about how to do it and also thinking about how to make it more accessible to people who might be taking the bus or riding their bike or walking,” he said.

But Lawson said the area’s infrastructure is the biggest challenge to making it more accommodating to pedestrians. The public right-of-ways are so narrow that it’s difficult to install bike lanes and sidewalks in some areas.

"When those corridors were built 50 to 60 years ago, they weren’t taking into consideration multi-modal transportation,” Lawson said.

The township is particularly focused on generating dense development along the Whittaker Road - Huron Street corridor. Lawson said the township isn’t trying to build a downtown, but the hope is to attract similar development.

He said there are relatively few restaurants or entertainment venues in the area to serve more than 30,000 residents on the township’s southside, so planners are hopeful to attract more such businesses.

Part of the master plan revision discussion has also included development of a commercial area or restaurant on Ford Lake. Right now, most of the lake is designated for residential use or developed, but one parcel that won’t allow for dense residential due to its proximity to Willow Run Airport could be rezoned commercial to allow for a lakeside restaurant.

Lawson also said marinas are a possibility, but Ford Lake is generally surrounded by bluffs, and parts of it are too shallow.

The township will next draft a revised master plan which the planning commission can recommend the township Board of Trustees approve. The Board of Trustees will then have a final vote on whether to approve it.

Lawson said the planning department is working on posting its plans on the township’s website. There will be an interactive feature that will allow residents to discuss what they like and don’t like in the township, and updates will be posted the township’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


Richard Roe

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

I have lived in the Holmes Rd area for 3 years now and have never seen a coyote our a raccoon.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

mr. roe, you need to get out more. you will probably not see a coyote there, but will hear them. i guarantee you that. raccoons come out at night also. if you are lucky enough to see one, you have a family of 20 near by.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

I think you will find that the overwhelming experience so far is that chickens (hens specifically) are a great addition to a residential area of whatever density. and Jen is correct, chickens are like any other animal - cared for properly there is not problem. You can look at any of the cities that have set up such ordinances and they will report no problem. There are many lists on the web but this one looked reasonable:


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Why is Ypsianti Twp doing all the upgrades on Whittaker, Huron and that side of Ford lake. I want a section 8 apartment (like they stuck Holmes Rd with) put on Huron River Drive and Whittaker area. Lawson, why not upgrade the park on Grove Rd and put a boat launch there some way? And why not develop the east mich ave area more coming in from Canton? I would like to see Gault Village pushed and opened up to I 94. It' s really sad to see ACO close. Whatever is there needs easier access from I 94.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

mr. roe, a lower socioeconomic status may rely on walking to grocery stores and/or work. they rely much more on public transporation. a public transporation system such as this is non-existant south of 94.

Richard Roe

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Is lower socioeconomic status prohibited south of 94? Also, close to downtown and depot town is much more convenient than out in the country, and if people can have 4 large dogs on a small lot why are 4 hens such a bother?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

I second dading dont delete me bro's comment. We don't need any section 8 south of I-94. As far as chickens...Buy some land or a farm if you want to farm. I have an Uncle and Aunt that just moved here from AZ. They moved to Adrian and bought a few acres as opposed to pushing their chickens onto all of their neighbors.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

no section 8 please. there's plenty of room at hamilton & 94


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

I live in Ypsianti Twp next to Ypsianti. My neighbor in Ypsianti has chickens and a rooster. When I go out on the deck early in the morning to do yoga, I can sometime hear the rooster through the trees. I think it's great. It doesn't mess with my concentration at all. I find the loud music in cars and loud trucks on Prospect Rd. to be extremely irritating. I'll take the rooster and a little bit of country sound any day. He must clean after them, cause I have never smelled anything from them.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.



Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

except that roosters are still illegal in Ypsilanti - they are not allowed, at all, by Ypsilanti's ordinance.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3 p.m.

A city that allows pit bulls is worried about some hens?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Chickens don't attract rodents, but chicken feed attracts rodents. A sensible ordinance allowing a few hens (no roosters) per city lot should be able to work.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

bring your chickens, the coyotes will love you for it.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

ivote, that's so the raccoons can get at them...


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

You secure your hens and roosters up, esp at night when coyotes usually hunt.