Dearborn heights trying to take away chickens

ChickenCanoe

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I've been to the Dearborn area a lot so I'm somewhat familiar.
So at 50k, you should be ok with the right to farm thing.
I've been round and round with cities in my area including mine over keeping chickens.
I beat my city and we won the fight in 8 out of 10 local cities.
 

black_cat

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Recently the city of Dearborn heights came and told me to get rid of my chickens and ducks. I contacted the state and they said I am covered under RTFA. After contacting the city they told me not to try it and I'm not sure if the city is lying any advice?
How large are your flocks? Do you sell any eggs, chicks, or meat? How long have you had them? Did you check ordinances when you established your flocks?
 

ChickenCanoe

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I have a game plan that worked for us. First, you have to make allies on the city council.
Then do your homework and get the media involved. We had the primary newspaper, radio stations and 3 of our tv news stations covering the events. IMO, that was critical. Mayors don't like bad publicity. After a year, all of us with chickens had an ordinance written that allowed us to keep doing what we were doing plus keep 10% more birds.
 

black_cat

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Claim emotional support animals!
The issue with that is, it causes confusion when there are ACTUAL emotional support animals that are going to be taken away because 'we've seen this before, you're just trying to keep your pets'
It's also difficult with large flocks.
 

ChickenCanoe

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The entire process starts and ends with the city council and mayor. It is a city ordinance they claim you are violating which they feel gives them the right to make you get rid of your animals. Avoid court at any length. Lawyers are expensive and the judge will follow the ordinance.
The goal is to get the ordinance changed to your liking.
As I said in my first post, it is essential to nurture allies on the city council and the mayor.
You won't get all of them on your side, you just need enough.
Have a game plan and don't cut corners if you really want to do this.
Go to all the city council meetings. You have to determine who has reasons for not supporting allowing chickens and what those reasons are. Keep a diary of your efforts and results.
Meet with each council person individually and discuss the topic.
Organize an area coop tour for members to overcome councilpersons' negative view of what a coop may mean for the city and its residents.
Try to identify as many city residents as possible who already have chickens. Encourage them and their neighbors to attend council meetings. Eventually, you'll want to bring the topic up as new business.
You may want to find someone in that area of Michigan who is a well known poultry expert to speak on your behalf at a council meeting. Preferably one that is well attended. Have them counter and refute to various objections among the council members.
Not only did I direct the effort in my city but I spoke at about 10 other area city councils for this goal. We only failed in two of them. In one of the wealthiest suburbs, I held a class just for council members at a Williams-Sonoma store that was promoting their backyard gardening launch.
As soon as you have your game plan in place - start a publicity campaign passing the information to all area TV networks, radio and newspapers. That was one of the things that really worked well for us. As I said, mayors hate bad publicity. Our small city just a few years earlier had been in the news for an ordinance disallowing cohabitation of unmarried persons while they tried to evict an unmarried couple with children. That left them butthurt to the point where they cringed at the idea of another negative media campaign.
I did evoke the RTFA as a small part of my campaign but it was tied to the fact that my family had been raising chickens in this village for a hundred years before it became a city.
And that my grandfather donated the land for the only church in town. A Lutheran church of which I knew most of the council were congregants.
You just have to use every tool in your bag.
After you get the council to agree to a new ordinance, you still aren't done. They then send the order to the city attorney - who knows nothing about chickens - so the attorney goes online and does a copy and paste of ordinances from across the country. That is something you want to avoid. You'll end up with number limits as low as 2 or 3 chickens. Or set back rules from property lines that at least force the coop to be smack dab in the sun in the middle of the yard or worse yet, make them illegal because the property isn't large enough to comply with the setback provisions.

Apparently this debate has been going on in Detroit and many of its suburbs for a few years.
Backyard chicken debate in metro Detroit: What to know (freep.com)
Metro Detroiters play ‘chicken’ with city councils to legalize backyard fowl (modeldmedia.com)
Detroit urban farmers lose patience with city’s animal livestock laws - Curbed Detroit
 
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