You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Backyard chickens now allowed in Chelsea

By Lisa Allmendinger


Council Member Rod Anderson

Lisa Allmendinger |

The gentle cooing of up to four backyard chickens will be legally heard at homes this spring in Chelsea.

With little discussion Tuesday night, the Chelsea City Council approved a new backyard chicken ordinance by a 4-2 vote, with Mayor Jason Lindauer and Council Member Rod Anderson casting no votes.

Council Member Frank Hammer as absent from the meeting. Anderson showed the council a photograph of several wild turkeys that flew into his yard Monday and reminded his colleagues of his fear about “the slippery slope” of allowing chickens in the city.

Anderson has previously stated that allowing backyard chickens will lead to requests for ducks and other farm animals.

“Chickens are coming here to roost and here’s proof that turkeys are coming to roost,” he said, showing everyone the enlarged photo.

The ordinance is expected to be published next Thursday and will become official 20 days later, on April 25, said Clerk Terri Royal. In the meantime, a backyard chicken application will be created and residents will soon be able to apply for a permit.

It's expected that the application form will be posted on the city's Website when available.

The permissive ordinance, which was crafted at the City Council's request by City Manager John Hanifan, allows up to four hens, but no roosters, on single-family residence properties provided home owners apply for a permit and pay a yearly fee, that’s expected to be about $10.

The exact amount of the permit fee must be approved by the City Council.

Included with the application must be drawings of the chicken area, its location on the owner’s property, as well as the coop’s relation to neighboring properties. The chickens must be housed in a secure, well-ventilated, roofed and lockable structure and the floors and walls must be kept clean and sanitary.

The fenced enclosure must allow for more than 10 square feet per chicken and it must be at least 10 feet from the property line of an adjacent property. In addition, it cannot be closer than 40 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent property. However, this 40-foot requirement can be waved with written permission from all adjacent landowners. Other stipulations include areas constructed to prevent rats, mice and other rodents from living underneath or within the walls of the enclosure. In addition, feed must be stored in a tightly lidded container in a shed, garage or similar storage structure.

There are also regulations about the disposal of chicken waste.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.



Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

This is so unfair to Mr. Anderson, he was absolutely making a joke. I was there. I disagree with him about chickens but I even went to the hassle of joining this discussion to defend him. He was joking, he was being good-natured about the whole thing, even though he doesn't want chickens. I am all for chickens, they are a service to the environment - they lat eggs, reduce waste to the landfill, and eat bugs, but us - the pro-chicken crowd please let us lighten up.

News Watcher

Thu, Mar 29, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

Given that Anderson' stance for years -- and even now -- has been "not in my backyard," "move to the country if you want chickens," "chickens will lead to other animals," and the like, all very much stated publicly with much severity, this recent Council meeting was NOT the place for him to attempt humor. Poor judgment reigns supreme for him again.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

SO, what's wrong with having chickens? Home grown is better than store bought. At least you know what they are eating(no hormones) & they are better for you.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Oh no, a beautiful wild turkey in his yard! How awful!

Dog Guy

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

What's with the chickens? It's keeping a cow in your backyard that will do wonders for your health and your children's immune systems.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

"Anderson showed the council a photograph of several wild turkeys that flew into his yard Monday and reminded his colleagues of his fear about "the slippery slope" of allowing chickens in the city. Anderson has previously stated that allowing backyard chickens will lead to requests for ducks and other farm animals. "Chickens are coming here to roost and here's proof that turkeys are coming to roost," he said, showing everyone the enlarged photo." I hope he was trying to make a lame joke here. Although, he did vote "no". Go figure.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

You want "farm animals".. live out in the country. This decision will come back to bite (peck) the City Council. You can bet, eventually, there will be applications for other "farm animals".


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

And those applications can be reviewed and dealt with, when and if they arrive. Just like how gay marriage doesn't lead to dog marriage. Have an open mind. Not everything is bad.

News Watcher

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Chelsea IS out in the country, in case you haven't visited lately. The high school has an annual Tractor Day where kids can drive their tractors to school! However, Milan, Ann Arbor, Pinckney, Lansing, East Lansing, Bloomington Heights, and Portage all number amongst the many Michigan towns and cities that allow backyard chickens. And NOT ONE of these cities and town has had issues with problematic chickens since passing their ordinances, nor have they had problems from people wanting to own goats, llamas, or other animals. It might pay to do a little research before posting next time.

News Watcher

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

A decision that was well made and long past due. Each week, dozens of American cities and towns are passing ordinances allowing chicken ownership, so it only makes sense that a city with an agrarian heritage like Chelsea allow its residents to raise a handful of hens. For those who have doubts about their neighbors' chickens, many informative and frank resources exist that should allay any hesitancy and provide factual details regarding hens. As for the turkey who made the wild turkey comment, it might behoove him to take a look around -- with open eyes -- at the city he supposedly represents. Not only does he seem to completely ignore its agricultural background, he also seems not to understand that Chelsea sits at the base of two of the state's largest natural park areas, both of which are frequented by wild turkeys as well as sandhill cranes, red-crested woodpeckers, tree swallows, and other bird species. It's only natural that wild birds pass the city by as they migrate to their summer ranges. Although perhaps in this case, the wild turkeys may have simply paused to visit one of their own.