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Are you a chicken smuggler in Shelby Township, Michigan?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by HandsOffMyHens, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Yes

    2 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 5, 2013
    We bought our first house here in Shelby Township 13 years ago, back when the intersections at Van Dyke Road and 24 Mile/25 Mile roads were just 4 way stop signs. Jewell and Schoenherr were gravel roads north of 25. The Target/Kohls/Home Depot strip mall at 26 Mile didn't exist. It was all field.
    The people who owned this house prior to us had chickens, horses and goats. We currently have a very modest flock including a rooster on our property. We've sold eggs as long as we have had the chickens (once they were laying of course). We have also sold trivial amounts of manure and some rooster feathers. We have close to 2 acres. We live next to the M53 freeway and the rooster is kind of smallish so his noise gets drowned out by the freeway noise. The neighbors don't hear him or complain. Many had no idea we even had chickens until the brewhaha began with a problem neighbor. I won't go into the 9 years of grief he has caused us, as it isn't relevant. Suffice it to say, he wore out his welcome infringing on our property. Asking nicely wasn't doing the trick. When we put up a "Posted: No trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted." sign to get the point across, he had his family screaming at us from the property line that the sign would be removed immediately or we would have the city on our doorsteps the next day. True to his word, he reported us for multiple "violations" within 12 hours. All were ultimately dismissed except the animal complaints.
    When I received the letter from the city, I called my husband, crying, to tell him we were told we had 5 days to remove all animals (specifically including the chickens and ALL of our dogs) from the property. We have six purebred show dogs. We license them responsibly with Macomb every single year. There has never been a limit on the number of dogs you can have in Shelby. We asked both Macomb County Animal Control and Shelby Municipal Offices to make sure. They just passed an ordinance last fall limiting Shelby residents to 2 dogs. They tried to play that down to residents by saying they won't enforce that unless there is a complaint. Unfortunately, even if you have the best behaved dogs in the world and they are debarked, you can still get in trouble if your neighbor hates you for some other reason. Interestingly enough, Shelby didn't order us to remove the excess 4 dogs and all the chickens. They ordered us to remove ALL animals from our property within 5 days. For some reason they felt we are not entitled to own two pet dogs like the rest of the residents. My husband, God bless his rugged heart, told me not to worry about it. He hung up and called an attorney. All these years, while I felt we were grandfathered in with our chickens, I kept an eye on all the legislature and various cases including the Papesh case. I had all the information readily pulled together. Did I mention I am a paralegal? So our attorney was pretty happy to have this nice tidy package citing state law and showing cases that are specifically on-point with ours.
    She took it to the ordinance officer along with a letter signed by all of our neighbors except the problem neighbor. The letter from the neighbors (nine of the ten who share a property line with us) states that they have never had an issue with any of our dogs or chickens and that the animals are not a nuisance. The ordinance officer told us we would just have to ask the ordinance board for a variance at an appeals hearing. That was scheduled for last Thursday evening at 630. Public comment was supposed to be allowed and they would let us know that night of their decision.
    At 530 pm, just an hour before the meeting, one of the board members knocked on my door and asked if he could see where we keep the chickens and the property lines. I showed him the entire back yard. He counted out the chickens (down to 5 currently) looked at the property lines and thanked me for my time. On his way back to the car, he stated that one of his neighbors (in Shelby) has chickens too. He didn't say anything else about it. I was a little surprised he volunteered that information considering that I am fighting to keep mine and he is on the board.
    As soon as the attorney identified us at the meeting and what we were there for, the board advised her that we would not be able to get a decision that night and they would not be hearing any arguments either for or against our application for variance. He said that due to the extremely thick and thorough packet of evidence and the case law citations that it contained, he and the rest of the board did not feel comfortable ruling on it without the township attorney having a chance to view it first. Of course the problem neighbor was there with two people I don't know, champing at the bit for a chance to complain. There were also four other residents who live over 500 feet from my property who saw the hearing advertised in the paper and came to say they don't want me to get chickens because they don't want to be woken up by roosters. I think they assume I am asking for permission to acquire them and don't realize that the chickens have been there for years. Nothing will change for them.
    Too late to make a long story short, but in the end, the board said that we would be called back for a hearing in November and that they will make sure that the city attorney goes over everything and will even request him to be there specifically.
    So I am sure there are other people in Shelby who want to get the ordinance changed to allow chickens but don't want to risk their own chickens by calling attention to themselves. And of course nobody wants to hire a lawyer over a bunch of five dollar hens. The city banks on that. So here is your chance to be collectively heard on the issue without actually calling attention to your own chickens and without hiring a lawyer. Are there any other Shelby Township residents who would be willing to come to the hearing in support of us keeping our chickens and as pressure to request a change in the ordinance to allow small flocks regardless of whether or not you sell eggs? This may be the best opportunity you will ever get. Maybe in the face of our attorney and the existing state laws, and a very crowded room full of people, the board will consider a change. Even if we can just get them to agree to allow a local vote to see if the majority of the residents want them here, it would be enough. I think they would be very surprised at how many do want chickens. Some of my current neighbors (I won't say who) have them and others say they wish they could.
    Also, I was told that Mrs Papesh herself is on these boards. Laura if you could contact me regarding this mess, I would love any tips you can provide.

    Thank you all for letting me vent. If anyone is interested in the nitty gritty details, our entire application packet (some 75 pages or so) is available at the zoning desk at the Shelby Township offices and is considered public information. You can get a copy there.

    Kindest regards,
    Melissa
     
  2. foxystag

    foxystag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2013
    Long Beach, Mississippi
    I am inspired by what you are doing and hope you can get all the people you can to attend your hearing. I know if I was closer, I would definitely attend.

    You have my support from Mississippi! Good luck!

    Sadly I am also a /chicken smuggler/. In my town, all I ever hear are howling dogs and barking racket so I would be upset if I got called on for a couple of next-to-no-sound pullets.
     
  3. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2012
    Melissa, I will try to attend unless any of my classes interfere. I started a thread here about a year ago about how to get laws changed in Shelby Twp., and even started a Yahoo group but cancelled it when I got no interest from anybody else. We need to get the ordinance changed. Personally, I do not wish to "go commercial", but if I had to, I would. At least then a person could claim MRTFA protection as backup. I think a lot of us just want to keep a few hens for our own pets and for eggs without the hassle of all the commercial aspects of owning chickens. But regardless, owning chickens in Shelby Twp. is no more against our city ordinances than is growing vegetables, breeding dogs and selling the puppies, and a lot of other things. It's totally ridiculous.

    You are right, this is a perfect opportunity for those of us who want chickens but cannot or will not hire an attorney. Also for those of us who don't want to even get chickens in the first place if we feel we'll just have to fight or get rid of them in the future. Considering how many surrounding municipalities are making them legal, and how the trend right now is more toward sustainability, you would think our representatives would take a more serious look at the big picture.

    I have also talked to Vikki Papesh several times. As a matter of fact, about 8 years ago or so I purchased a couple dozen eggs from her (when she still had roosters) and hatched 18 chicks only to find out I couldn't keep them. I drove them 600 miles to my grandparent's farm in Iowa. It is a shame that her case did not open it up for the rest of us, but it doesn't appear it is an automatic thing.

    I will try to spread the word, although I personally don't know anybody else who wants chickens right now.

    Sandy
     
  4. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Sandy the meeting will supposedly be in the evening during the first week of November but we don't have a date or time yet. I was really surprised to hear that 3 of my neighbors didn't know I had chickens and said they have always wanted them. I never would have guessed any of my neighbors would enjoy them.Ask around to your neighbors. You would be surprised how many people want them
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  5. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    The hearing is scheduled for Thursday November 7 at 630 pm. If anyone can make it for support we would greatly appreciate it.
     
  6. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    The hearing is at 630 pm on Nov 7. If anyone can show up in support of our chickens it would be greatly appreciated.
     
  7. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2012
    I have a meeting scheduled for that time. I will see if I can get it changed.
     
  8. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Shelby township is in the north suburbs of metro Detroit just north of Sterling Heights.
     
  9. HandsOffMyHens

    HandsOffMyHens Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, interesting little development. We were told at the hearing in the beginning of October that the Board felt it was necessary for the twp attorney to go over our application given the amount of law that was contained therein and the fact that they did not feel qualified to sort through it all. They tabled the appeals hearing and told us we would receive a letter to attend the November 7th hearing where the twp attorney could be present before anything was discussed or decided. So here we are at October 24th and no letter requesting our presence at the meeting. I went through the Shelby paper today and found the notice for the hearing in the beginning of the month. Ours isn't one of the listed matters for November 7th. So either they have decided they need more time to look for loopholes, or else they realized they will be fighting an expensive and difficult to win battle given the precedent that has already been set here. So please don't waste your time turning up at the Shelby offices on November 7th. There are no matters being heard that night concerning chickens.
     
  10. liliyfield

    liliyfield Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 26, 2013
    Did you read the thread Michigan right to farm act?
     

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