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Clawson Working Towards New Chicken Ordinance

Clawson Working Towards New Chicken Ordinance

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 26, 2018)

Clawson, MI- Clawson City Council is mulling over details of an ordinance regulating chickens in the community. The current ordinance allows for chickens, but only in cases where the coops are built at least 500 feet from the property line and any residential, school or church buildings.

This means that nearly every residential property is excluded.  Several residents were notified earlier this year that their coops were illegal, though the city agreed to hold off forcing them to remove the birds until more discussion could take place.

After hosting a town hall on the matter, City Council voted 4-1 on Oct. 16 to have staff draft an ordinance that would make chicken ownership possible.

That draft was presented at the Dec. 18 meeting, with only Councilperson Paula Milan – the previous dissenting vote – continuing to speak against allowing chickens.

“I’ve talked to my neighbors, they don’t want them,” Milan said.  “It’s not against the animals. It’s not against the owners. It’s about ‘I moved to a city. I didn’t move to a farm.’… I’m the only opposer, I get that, but I’m not the only opposer in the city.  I just think we have to be really stringent in setting this up so that it’s contained, it’s small, and it perhaps has an opportunity to grow so that, one, our resources can adapt, and two, that we can just see what the interest is.”

The draft ordinance would require a permit to be obtained and for owners to include a waste management plan.  There would be a fee, though that number has not yet been determined. The ordinance would restrict the number of birds, however that number has not yet been decided.  It also requires an adequate enclosure that is impenetrable by rodents, and it prohibits the selling of eggs and the slaughter of chickens.

The number of hens is up for debate.  Neighboring communities that allow chickens have limits of 3-6 chickens.

Councilperson Matt Ulbrich said he hopes city staff will add more details about feeding and food storage, as well as finding an acceptable distance from the lot line.

Resident Margaret Conroy spoke about her experience keeping chickens.  She had four chickens for five years.  “They were wonderful,” she said.  She said they were great pets and neighbors did not even realize she had them.  “My aviary was spotless,” she said.  “You would not want to eat eggs from a dirty chicken coop…  My grandchildren, 24 grandchildren, played with these chickens like a puppy. They sat in their lap. They were very sweet. I don’t have one now, but I may want one again.”

The biggest concern by neighbors has been the potential for rats.  Conroy addressed this, stating, “As far as chicken waste, you can buy it from the nursery and apply it to your lawn.  Rats are not attracted to that… There are rats in our neighborhood, a lot of them. But they’re not coming from chickens.”

She stated that chicken feed can attract rats, but that feeding from containers can reduce the risk.  She also said there are more people filling up birdfeeders than there are putting out chicken feed.

Another concern is noise.  City Attorney Jon Kingsepp said “The noise level of a chicken is extremely low.  Lower than dogs.”  He added “They’re not barnyard animals any more. They’re pets.  It is an adjustment.”

With feedback from the council, Kingsepp and City staff will work on further revising the draft ordinance before it comes back to City Council for a public hearing sometime in the new year.

To read the draft ordinance, visit the City of Clawson website.


Related stories:

Ferndalians Can Now Keep Up to Six Backyard Chickens, Sept. 11, 2018

Dumpsters, Chickens and Wind Turbines Under Consideration by Holly township, Sept. 9, 2018

Chickens of Oakland County, Where Does Your Community Stand. Aug. 3, 2017

Ferndale’s First (Legal) Chicken Coop, May 18, 2012

Chicken Coops in Ferndale, April 20, 2011

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