(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News Wire, 9/13/2011)
Ferndale City Council will be asked to consider changes to the City Ordinance which would allow for the raising of chickens in the back yards of single-family dwellings as long as the coop is not within ten feet of another structure or property line.
The City of Ferndale Planning Commission voted unanimously to send a recommendation to council. The recommendation includes a permitting process and several stipulations, like that structures must be made out of durable materials and that a homeowner must pass a site inspection before receiving a permit. Coops could only be in the backyard and they must have all feed in sealed containers to discourage rodents.
The recommended changes to the City Code of Ordinances would make rules in Ferndale similar to those in Ann Arbor and Madison Heights.
Community Development Director Derek Delacourt and members of the commission discussed the issue over the course of several meetings before having the public comment on it Tuesday, September 14, 2011. Delacourt said he spoke with representatives of Ann Arbor and Madison Heights, as well as had communication with other cities. “None of the cities gave any indication they had regrets about allowing chickens,” he said.
The commission considered the pros and cons of allowing residents to care for the birds. Members of 4H Oakland County came with an example of a free-standing chicken coop with three real live chickens in it. They also had youngsters there with some of their chickens to answer any questions people had about raising the creatures.
Former Mayor (and current Judge) Chuck Goeddert was among those opposed to allowing backyard chickens in Ferndale. “We have an example of what and ideal chicken coop could be, but that’s not a reality,” he said. He said that while growing up on W. Woodland his next door neighbor had a large privacy fence behind which he kept chickens. “He was not the most responsible chicken owner and that’s a problem in an urban area.” He said that noise, smell, and unkempt appearance were problems that encroached on the rights of neighbors, and he urged the commission not to recommend allowing them.
Residents in favor of suburban chickens say they value being able to use their property as they wish, having control over the quality of the food they raise for themselves, and the fun and educational experience that caring for an animal provides. The website ferndalechickens.com gives more information about the issues involved. The site is the creation of Laura Mikulski, who hopes to raise chickens of her own.
Delacourt addressed the issue of upkeep by outlining the process for dealing with a bad pet owner, which is also the way most code violations are handled. The first step is to give a courtesy notice and give them 10-14 days to correct the violation. Next the city may contact them and figure out why they didn’t pay. At that point they would issue a ticket.
Ferndale City Council is expected to vote on this issue at their Sept 26 meeting. For more information about City Council visit the City of Ferndale website.
To read about a family in Ferndale and their experience keeping chickens, check out our previous story – http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/04/20/chicken-coops-in-ferndale/. To read more about Mikulski ‘s quest see http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/05/12/the-chicken-petition/.