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Posted on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

Will Chelsea backyard chicken lovers finally get their birds?

By Lisa Allmendinger

A group of backyard chicken enthusiasts is hoping this summer they will be allowed to keep up to four hens in Chelsea because on Tuesday night, the City Council will discuss a proposed backyard chicken ordinance.

The proposed ordinance, which includes strict regulations, was approved on first reading two weeks ago.

Borden - chickens in the laying box

Corinna Borden | Contributor

The group hopes city officials will allow them to own a few hens for egg production on small plots.

Currently, the city’s ordinance allows chickens in three city zoning districts — one agricultural and two residential areas. However, homeowners must have at least 5 acres to legally house chickens.

The proposed ordinance would allow up to four hens, but no roosters, on single-family residence properties provided homeowners apply for a permit and pay a yearly fee, which is expected to be about $10.

To receive a permit, property owners must include 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 in a secure, well-ventilated, roofed and lockable structure and the floors and walls must be kept clean and sanitary.

The fenced pen, run or enclosure must be more than 10 square feet per chicken and it must be at least 10 feet from the property line of an adjacent property and cannot be closer than 40 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent property. However, the 40-foot requirement can be waived with written permission from all adjacent landowners.

The chicken areas must be 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.

Chickens are to be for personal use and they cannot be slaughtered.

If there are noise, odor or vermin complaints, the city may revoke the permit if a person’s chickens are deemed a nuisance twice in a two-month period.

No one who has been convicted of animal cruelty will be allowed to raise chickens in the city.

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



Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

We live across the street from someone that has chickens. They have a rooster, it crows ALL DAY LONG, IT NEVER STOPS!!!!!!!!! I can't stand it, you better use some sence when you start allowing chickens in the city.

Katie Fifelski

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

Well... That's the truth that most city dwellers don't know... Roosters crow all day! I agree that roosters should be limited to areas with more space...

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

"Chickens are to be for personal use and they cannot be slaughtered" so they can be bbq'd and deep-fried. mmmm.....


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Or will they "get the bird" and just be left squawking?


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

Very true that hens are not nearly the possible risk or nuisance--but they are outdoor creatures. In my neighborhood, we've almost as many pets as people. Yet I don't see these pets very often as I walk around the neighborhood (they are indoors 90% of the time). My house is only 15 feet from my neighbor's house. Our lots are too small for me to avoid any pet that is kept outdoors. This is a significant difference. Ordinance is also dealing with fact that most people are not used to being around hens, while most people have been around dogs/cats--so are aware of the issues with one group of animals and not the other. The unknown requires some reassurance, it would seem.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

I don't see anything wrong with raising chickens; when the lights go out in a disaster the eggs and chickens will be source of food for the family. We cannot rely on our government to help us in emergencies for survival.

Katie Fifelski

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

It makes me crazy that all of these restrictions are put on owners of poultry. I Iive on 5 acres now (A huge blessing) but lived the rest of my life in city and suburb neighborhoods crawling with cats and dogs. Hens are not neArly the safety risk or nuisance as some of these pets were. When it is dark.. They sleep.. If they get loose, they will not hurt the neighbor children... It's time to look closely at the state right to farming laws and get rid of all this nonsense of so many restrictions!