(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 3, 2017)
Oakland County, MI – Jackson Clementz loves his chickens. The five year old spends time chasing and petting the three black New England Reds and three Red Sex Links that live in a pen in his grandfather’s backyard in Holly.
All of them have the same name. When the chickens are being quiet and friendly, he calls them “Jackson,” and when they’re being squawky he names them “Stinker.”
The Village of Holly recently changed their ordinance so residents could have six birds, up from the previous limit of three. As in many communities, Village of Holly officials have had to research and consider their chicken ordinances to find a balance for property owners, neighbors and the welfare of the animals.
“We had citizens request the change,” said Village Manager Jerry Walker. “Chickens are really social animals and it’s healthier for them to be in groups.” He added that the hens tend to bond in pairs, so four or six chickens is more ideal quantity than three.
Backyard chicken have been allowed in the village as long as he can remember. “Chickens are a non issue here. We haven’t had any problems.”
Ordinances in other communities vary, but interest in suburban chickens has been increasing. On June 5, the City of Berkley passed a test ordinance of one year to issue a limited number of permits. “Berkley’s approach was to create a pilot program where 5 permits for backyard chickens would be issued for the first year,” said City Manager Michael Baumgarten. “After this pilot concludes the City Council will revisit the matter and either make alterations to the text of the ordinance for approval or conclude that this use is not correct for Berkley and decide not to move forward on it.”
Berkley resident Marisa Weber had been one of the proponents of getting a chicken ordinance in Berkley, although she is not stepping up to be one of the five test cases.
“I will not be one of the first to apply with city. Although I would really like to help figure out how this will work for our city, I have so many other commitments. I do not wish to fail in protecting the cities values, nor in helping find a way to make this work for all parties,” Weber said.