Chelsea Backyard Chicken group to plead case to City Council Monday night
The issue of allowing backyard chickens on small lots in Chelsea is coming back to the City Council Monday night.
After laying low since last summer, the Chelsea Backyard Chicken group has offered a sample ordinance to the City Council, and Chris Feleskey, its spokesman, is expected to speak at the beginning of the meeting that begins at 7 p.m.
The group wants the city to change those current zoning restrictions, something that its Planning Commission studied previously and denied.
According to the group’s proposal, three hens would be allowed on property up to .11 of an acre, four hens for property from 0.12 to 0.23 of an acre, six hens for property 0.24 to 0.35 of an acre and eight hens for property that’s 0.36 to 4.99 acres.
"Raising a few hens for eggs is not any more of an agricultural activity than having a tomato garden," Felesky said previously. "Hens are innocuous. It would be no cost to the city and there would be no infrastructure needed."
No roosters would be allowed under the proposal.
“Chickens shall be provided with a secure, well ventilated, roofed and lockable structure,” the plan states. It also stipulates provisions for complaints about noise, odor, vermin or cruelty.
The proposal would require homeowners to obtain a license that can be revoked if the chickens become a nuisance, which is defined as three violations of its provisions within a 12-month period.
In a letter to City Council Members, the group said, “As you are aware, 'Chelsea Backyard Chickens' has been fighting to modernize Chelsea's anti-hen ordinance for well over a year now.”
The letter reiterates that the group has held film events, canvassed door to door, spoken with business owners and participated in several work sessions with elected officials.
“We have approached council formally on three occasions, including two hour-long working sessions. These work sessions have enabled council members to address any concerns that they may have had and enabled us to offer informational packets at each session that contained empirical case studies, as well as our personal appeals to change the law,” the letter states.
Since that time, two Chelsea homeowners, Roen Montalva and her husband, Tim Farmer, who live on Harrison Street, were told to get rid of their chickens or face fines for breaking the city’s current ordinance.
The group cited “scores of cities across the state have realized the benefits of allowing homeowners to raise a few laying hens, so long as they are kept in a clean and quiet manner,” the letter states.
Grass Lake recently enacted an ordinance.
“In light of the recent crackdown, now is the time to deal with this issue once and for all,” the letter states. “There are many creative residents in our community and on our City Council. I'm sure that we can come up with a fair resolve and do it quickly.”
The Chelsea City Council meets Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Washington Street Education Center, 500 Washington St. The meeting date was changed because of the election on Tuesday night.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.
It seems like the people who are naysayers simply do not have personal experience with keeping chickens at all. Worried about coyotes coming to your property? If you have a dog or cat or even a wild bird feeder, you're at much more risk than if you have chickens that are locked up in a coop at night. Worried about skunks skulking around at night? They'll be there for your garbage cans and your dog droppings long before they'll notice there is a chicken coop. Concerned about smells? Then it's best to get rid of your dog or cat, whose droppings and scent glands and territorial marking are far more odiferous than the smell of chicken droppings. Noise? Hens don't make noise except once per day, when they lay their egg, and only when they are frightened, and what could possibly scare them in a nice, safe, suburban environment? If you are concerned about how chickens will affect you, take the time to research chickens at backyardpoultry.com, reading Hobby Farms or Chickens or Backyard Poultry magazine, and actually talking to chicken owners ... BEFORE you support taking away the rights of others to make their families more self sustaining.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.
Here's my concern--I live in the city. I can stand in my driveway at night and hear coyotes howl. Chickens will encourage them to come into the city looking for food. I have 2 small dogs that would be at risk. While I would love to have fresh eggs, I am not willing to risk coyotes coming into subdivisions looking for food.
Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 6:22 a.m.
Yea its always sad when you read about all the dogs that are killed by coyotes ....oh wait
Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.
Do you know if Ann Arbor, Austin, Madison, New York, etc. have a problem with coyotes that is related to hens?
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.
I think people mistake roosters for chickens, chickens really don't make much noise at all. As for the smell, there really isn't any. Part of the education is to educate those that think they are noisy and smelly.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.
This is great! I've been considering raising a couple pigs in my back yard.... They're just little, so shouldn't be a problem , right? I'm all for chickens! That will make it much easier to get my pigs! I'll keep them in a little building (except for those few times they accidentally get out, of course)....And they won't make any noise or sounds, because I'll scold them if they do..... AND , the best part, look at the FREE fertilizer i will receive! I'll be able to spread it on my organic garden! I have been thinking about a few ducks, also. I suppose they would fall under the same rules? My daughter really wants to raise a couple of those little ponies, you know, the kind that don't get very big. I think now we will be able to get those for her! I'm sure the City Council would include them, and they wouldn't think of discriminating against our pigs, ducks and ponies........ And, come to think of it, I have been looking for a part time job, perhaps the Council will have enough money to hire me for the "Chicken Squad"???? I could spend most of my time at City Hall or the Police Department, waiting for the complaints to come in, and in my spare time, drive around in a City Vehicle (and burn the City's $3.80/gal gasoline) and try and spot chicken offenders..... Might have to bust a rooster or two......... But I would have to have health insurance, though, and retirement benefits, after all, I can't be expected to take this kind of a job without all the perks the other City employees get......
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.
"(1) Complaints about noise, specifically frequent, ongoing, or long-continued noise that disturbs the comfort of any persons in the vicinity;" Oh, would that we were able to apply this to the dogs that people allow to bark in their backyards for hours at a time! I don't think I'm in a position to have a chicken coop in my own yard, but I would be more than happy to help any of my neighbors with an egg surplus.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.
If you think that you just have to have these chickens, than why not keep them in your house ? I really don't need more coyotes and skunks roaming around the neighborhood.
Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 6:19 a.m.
Coyotes ? That's your big worry?
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.
Respectively suggest that you move to Detroit.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:12 a.m.
My neighbors have chickens. They do not smell nor attract skunks or coyotes. I wish I could have some chickens for the eggs.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:39 a.m.
I am surprised that cities like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti allow residents to keep chickens, yet Chelsea, of all places, does not. Get real! I would be interested to know the 'inside politics' on council that compels them to block the people of Chelsea's ability to take this small step towards self sustenance, especially at a time in our economy when it makes a ton of sense. I don't buy that the city doesn't have the resources to enforce the ordinance; according to this article, they had the resources and focus to track down and threaten residents currently keeping chickens. Chelsea, please get past whatever subjective prejudices you hold and do what makes proper sense for the people you represent- support the proposed ordinance!
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 3 a.m.
I wonder if some of the fears (noise/odor) are based on actual experiences or an ignorance regarding urban hens. From my experience 4-6 hens in the city are in a well kept pen with little/no odor and far less noise than a barking dog. Perhaps it may help to check out some of our Ann Arbor city chickens for the reality of keeping hens are pets in the city.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.
since farm fresh eggs are readily accessible in and close by to Chelsea, all of this is about having farm animals as pets in town. this should be a proposed amendment to the pet ordinance instead of a revision to the agricultural restrictions in the city limits. it would seem like a much more logical approach to people wanting chickens in their backyard... in addition to the lot size restrictions, i believe that any allowance of chickens should require a mandatory signature agreement from every neighbor that touches the property involved. In an urban environment, it's always about community.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.
It sounds like a reasonable and workable proposal to me. I hope it gets passed.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.
Does not matter to me! But how many members belong to the "group". And I don't count Facebook.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.
Just curious why you wouldn't count facebook, this is the way that groups get started and a way of communicating anymore. In a sense it is the way of the future.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.
Section 2: Keeping of Chickens (a) Each person holding a license to keep chickens within the City of Chelsea shall comply with the following: (1) The principle use of the property where the chickens are to be kept is a single family dwelling as defined by the Chelsea City Code; (2) No parcel of land may contain a number of birds exceeding the maximum for that sized parcel as described below: Max. # Poultry Parcel Area Acreage 3 0 to 5,009 0.0 to .11 4 5,010 to 10,236 .12 to .23 6 10,237 to 15,246 .24 to .35 8 15,247 to 217364 .36 to 4.99 (3) No individual shall keep a rooster; (4) Chickens shall be provided with a secure, well-ventilated, roofed, and lockable structure (heretofore referred to as a "coop"); (5) The floors and walls of the coop shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition, (6) The floor area of the fenced pen, run, or enclosure shall be no less than 10 square feet per chicken; (7) Neither the coop nor the fenced pen, run, or enclosure shall be located within 20 feet of any neighbor's residential dwelling (8) Both the coop and the fenced pen, run, or enclosure must be located in the back yard of the chicken owner's property; (9) Chicken feed must be stored within a tightly lidded container in a shed, garage, or similar storage area;
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.
Here is our proposed ordinance. I had to break it into 2 posts!!! I hope that it eases those with reservations. We tried hard to protect all property owners in town, not just the chicken lovers! As sent to council: Section 1: Obtaining a License to Keep Chickens (a) Any person who keeps chickens within the city of Chelsea shall obtain a license prior to acquiring the chickens. Applications shall be made to the Chelsea city clerk. (b) The Chelsea City Clerk may revoke a license if a person's chickens become a nuisance, defined as three determined violations as pertaining to the keeping of chickens within a 12-month period: (1) Complaints about noise, specifically frequent, ongoing, or long-continued noise that disturbs the comfort of any persons in the vicinity; (2) Complaints about odor, specifically foul, noisome, or unpleasant odors that are frequent, ongoing, or long-continued and disturb the comfort of any persons in the vicinity; (3) Complaints about vermin, specifically the frequent, ongoing, or long-continued presence of such vermin as (but not limited to) mice, rats, raccoons, and possum; (4) Failure to comply with the provisions listed under Keeping of Chickens. (c) The Chelsea city clerk may revoke a license issued to a person convicted of animal cruelty in the State of Michigan.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.
This could easily be done by using the Ann Arbor regulations. Neighbors must consent. I am sure that if my neighbor wanted fresh eggs and let their children be educated about our food process we could work something out. As far as being right next to a screened in porch as stated in one example the adjoining neighbor could oversee and even be of help in deciding the location so as not to be a problem. It takes a village.
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.
The largest problem with this issue is that the Chelsea city manager has already stated that the city does NOT have the funds/manpower to enforce any sort of ordinance regarding the allowance of back yard chickens. If this is indeed the case, then I strongly suggest the city council not pass any ordinance they can't enforce, as it is a given that there will be problems (sorry to sound so pessimistic, but this is the norm). Another issue is that many of the lots in Chelsea are very narrow and deep, which is the case with our lot, and if our neighbor were to decide they want chickens and end up putting them along their fence line, it is possible that my wife & I would have a chicken coop located six feet away from our screened back porch, which is a place we enjoy in the summer months w/friends and family. We simply don't want the smell and noise of chickens that close to our property. A lot of other Chelsea residents are in the same situation and feel the same way. In closing, I say keep the chickens found within Chelsea city limits to the type that are fried and found in a bucket (with maybe a side of potato salad and some baked beans.
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.
Yah, I say pass the Ordinance, after all, Chicken raisers are all nice people, right? And we all know that it wouldn't cost the City very much to litigate a chicken situation if the Chicken owners decided they wanted their Chickens whether they were in complete compliance, right? Because it would be easy to determine what a "foul" odor would be considered, no, wait, did you mean "fowl" odor? Beware those who are trying to "protect all property owners"! If the issue was not a problem, why would "protection" be necessary? And beside, the City Clerk doesn't have too much else to take care of, so spending time verifying Chicken licenses shouldn't be too much of an issue. AND, keeping a Chicken file to make sure that the offending Chickens have been allowed to offend for their alloted year and perhaps 3 SEPARATE go-rounds with violations from the Chicken police and/or City Clerk....Yah, sounds like another Ordinance Chelsea needs.......
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.
That's why we added this language: (7) Neither the coop nor the fenced pen, run, or enclosure shall be located within 20 feet of any neighbor's residential dwelling (b) The Chelsea City Clerk may revoke a license if a person's chickens become a nuisance, defined as three determined violations as pertaining to the keeping of chickens within a 12-month period: (1) Complaints about noise, specifically frequent, ongoing, or long-continued noise that disturbs the comfort of any persons in the vicinity; (2) Complaints about odor, specifically foul, noisome, or unpleasant odors that are frequent, ongoing, or long-continued and disturb the comfort of any persons in the vicinity; (3) Complaints about vermin, specifically the frequent, ongoing, or long-continued presence of such vermin as (but not limited to) mice, rats, raccoons, and possum;
Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.
I agree. I wouldn't support an ordinance unless there were minimum set-backs for the hen house & cage. People could debate whether the set-back should be 20 feet or 80 feet (for example) but I can't imagine allowing a person to mount a chicken coop near their property line--that just transfers the noise and smell problem from the chicken owner to the neighbor.