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Just needing to vent- Silver Creek Township, Cass/Berrien County, Michigan

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just received a violation notice that states that I need to get rid of my tiny flock of chickens within 10 days. (Scroll to bottom to see ordinance).  I have had them for over a year and a half now, going on 2 years, and we haven't had one complaint from the neighbors at all, they even seemed to support us having them. They never left our property and were not a nuisance. 

 

I know we are in the wrong and should have researched the area and zoning laws better, but the only reason we have run afoul of the zoning is because my husband questioned someone we didn't know who was crossing our property to the lakefront.  Turns out it was the neighbors across the street's son-in-law, which we didn't recognize because these people are only here on weekends in the summer.  The neighbor's son became indignant that we dare question him on who he was and why he was on our property, and while we tried to be civil, we could hear him complaining about getting us back for bothering him on his vacation time.  So, about a week later the all powerful Silver Creek Township Police came to check out our horrible crime of chicken keeping. We just received the notice yesterday. I have found a nice place to rehome them, they will be free ranging, which they did in our fenced yard, and we will be giving them up tonight.

 

We only got them because my daughter was in the feed store around Easter and begged her father for a few chicks. I was against the idea at the time, but hubby had already bought them. Then we fell in love with the chicks, the chickens, and the eggs. I am heartbroken. My daughter and husband are heartbroken. We are all sad.

 

I know some will say that we should have known better, and yes, we should have. I don't disagree with this.   We are in violation of zoning ordinance, which although a mile down the road are farms and feed stores and considered agricultural district, our section is designated waterfront/lakefront and prohibits fowl/poultry.   But if it weren't for the people who reported us, this wouldn't have happened. The incident wasn't even a big deal, we just politely asked who this strange person was that was crossing our property, and he became volatile and defensive that he had a right of easement to the lake. We didn't dispute that, we just asked who he was as it is not a public easement, but a very private one limited to just the house across the street and we didn't know he was a guest of the people across the street. 

 

I am just venting because this was pretty upsetting to my family and me.  Since the area is full of people who are just part-time vacation property owners, there is little, if any, chance to change the zoning for my area.  Most of them pay higher taxes as non-residents and the zoning board knows it. We have had this property for over 45 years and are year round residents. My grandfather used to have rabbits and chickens on this property when he was alive. He even had a meat goat at one time.  But times change and I just have to suck it up.  But I wanted to vent a little about it with people who love their chickens because I am so broken up over it. They were our pets, gave us joy, and had a nice life with us for a short period of time they were here.  I wish we could keep them.  We are some of the last year-round long term owners/residents of property in this area, the out of towners have changed so many ordinances and laws that it has became almost prohibitively expensive to even live here, but the house is paid off and we get homestead exemption for taxes, so we will stay for now.  Maybe one day we will move or buy a farm a mile down the road, if the laws don't change by that time. Thank you for reading.   

 

For anyone wanting to know the ordinance for Silver Creek Township, Cass County, Michigan, here it is:

 

CHAPTER 3
GENERAL PROVISIONS
3-15
SECTION 3.22 KEEPING OF PETS AND RAISING AND KEEPING FOWL OR ANIMALS
A. No more than three (3) adult dogs or cats in combination shall be kept or housed per each dwelling unit in any Residential District.
B. Any other provision of this Ordinance notwithstanding , the keeping, housing, raising, or use of fowl or animals other than customary house pets of an occupant of the premises, is prohibited in the Residential Districts.
C. Where such activities are pursued or conducted in any other District as it may be allowed, the following is permitted:
1. On lots of one-half (½) acre, but less than one (1) acre: raising and keeping fowl
and/or rabbits and/or other small animals for pets, not to exceed three (3) per family;
2. On lots of one (1) acre, but less than two (2) acres: raising and keeping fowl and/or
rabbits and/or other small animals commonly raised for human consumption in
numbers no greater than is required to satisfy the personal needs of the human
occupiers of the premises;
3. On lots of two (2) acres, but less than five (5) acres: the uses permitted by paragraph
2, above, plus one (1) horse or one (1) cow or one (1) pig per acre, provided that any
pig pen or building or structure housing farm animals shall be a minimum of fifty (50)
feet from any property line.
4. On lots of five (5) acres or more: the uses permitted by paragraphs 2 and 3, above,
plus one (1) additional head of horse, cow, pig, or other large domestic animal for
each additional one-half (½) acre above the first five(5) acres. Provided that any pig pen or building or structure housing farm animals shall be a minimum of fifty (50) feet from any property line.

Edited by LadyKjo - 7/14/15 at 9:03am
post #2 of 5

I am sorry for you, hopefully you can find a good home for your chickens. These anti-chicken laws are so ridiculous.

post #3 of 5
Sincd you have ownsd the property as long as you have, and at one point had chickens, etc. legally, there is a slight possibility that you are grandfathered in for keeping them. as for having access to an easement, usually there is an access point, not wandering your whole property. since the people who have the right to use the easement is so limited, you certainlyhave the right to question unknown people accessing it. for all you knew, he was someone not authorized...at best

Breeder & Exhibitor of fine silkies in recognized and project varieties.
adult and started pairs occasionally available;
   No eggs or chicks. 
Support your local poultry clubs, breed clubs, ABA & APA!

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Breeder & Exhibitor of fine silkies in recognized and project varieties.
adult and started pairs occasionally available;
   No eggs or chicks. 
Support your local poultry clubs, breed clubs, ABA & APA!

Reply
post #4 of 5
I know it's been a year since your post. We are right down the road from you I bet, and I totally understand how big a problem the out of owners are.
post #5 of 5

this is the problem you have to deal with

 

since there's no point in doing something knowingly that it's illegal in the first place.. and yet still do it anyway..

 

this is why i would advice against going ahead with it if it is not allowed/illegal in your area.. since you will be wasting all that time+labor+costs

What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
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What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
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