Help me make a case to keep my chickens!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by chelseab, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. chelseab

    chelseab New Egg

    Aug 29, 2014
    So this morning I woke up to a dedicated civil servant of the city of Greenwood (Indiana) knocking on my door. He was here to inform me that it is a violation to have my chickens and my rabbits in city limits. I live on just about an acre in an older subdivision. My girls have a beautiful coop, they have never escaped or caused any amount of chaos. I only have 6. My rabbits are also well behaved and aren't bothering anyone. I want to file an appeal and make a case for my chicken and rabbits. I think in this day and age we are obligated to be self sufficient and that is all I'm trying to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. cynroux

    cynroux Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 28, 2014
    Southern Maryland
    I'm not an attorney, but in this case, where you're now in a position to ask forgiveness rather than permission, it may be best to petition the zoning board for a variance. Include immunization records, photos of the coop/hutch area to prove it's clean, secure and vermin free, and include photos of the flock and rabbits, to further prove their good health. Recently, a gentleman here in our area petitioned to keep his small flock (we are required to have not less than three acres for poultry!), on the basis that the care and maintenance of the birds was vital to his overall health, due to his status as a Veteran. He was granted permission to keep his chickens.
    I hope this works out in your favor!
  3. chelseab

    chelseab New Egg

    Aug 29, 2014
    Thank you for your input, I will absolutely use this info!
  4. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    That is a situation every chicken person dreads. Maybe if you invited them out to see your coop/ hutch in person, they would realize they are not a nuisance or a health hazard
    as some detractors want people to believe.

    [​IMG] I hope your appeal prevails.
  5. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Glad you joined us!
  6. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
  7. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    At our lodge
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    X2 on the above posters' advice. Good luck! Remember to explain what you plan to do carefully and with detail. Also, be cheerful and kind as people are always more willing to listen to those kinds of people.:)
  8. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

    I'm sorry about what you're going through. [​IMG]You've been given great advice above. Good luck!
  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Oh, I am so sorry. I have never been in this position before, so I am not much help to you. Definitely follow the link that Kelsie provided to our Chicken Laws and How To Change Them section. Most likely it was one of your neighbors that turned you in. If you feel proper about it, you might confront them and ask why they would do such a thing.

    And if all else fails, you might keep a few house chickens and rabbits. This has happened to lots of members here on BYC and they have taken to keeping a few as house pets. Here is a nice thread on house chickens...

    Good luck with this. I surely hope you can change their minds. [​IMG]
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Speaking from the standpoint of a town official, I'm afraid you have put yourself in a difficult position. You'll be entering talks with your officials from the standpoint of someone who has already shown that rules and regulations aren't important. So what are you going to be able to say to convince them that now you are willing to follow the rules - as long as they let you keep your animals. Before you get defensive and start calling me names like Nazi, Gestapo, or any of the other things I've been called when I bring up these points, think it through. You had chickens, which weren't allowed where you lived, but you did it anyway and had no contact with the officials of your town until they came to you. Your chickens and rabbits may be kept in perfectly clean, adequate surroundings, but they are still not permitted. They may be quiet and peaceful and unobtrusive, but they are still not permitted. You may have had the best intentions of trying to be more self-sufficient, but they are still not permitted. So when you meet with the town, the first thing you'll have to do is convince them that you didn't mean to violate any ordinances, but their point will be that you did exactly that.

    So your job is two-fold. First, you have to convince them that you had a good reason to bypass seeking a variance before you put so much hard work and money into your project. That's going to be tough. Then you have to prove to them that your critters are housed in a sanitary manner, healthy, and are not annoying to anyone living around you. Again, that might be tough, because obviously someone filed a complaint. Most of us who serve our communities also have full time jobs outside of town hall and are not in the habit of getting into our cars and cruising neighborhoods hoping to find violations of some sort. We usually don't know about an issue until someone brings it to our attention - and that means that someone turned you in. I've also been told here in these forums that having chickens is no big deal and that greedy town officials could have chosen not to act on a complaint. My response is always, "Really? So if you went to your town government with an issue you wouldn't mind if they decided your problem wasn't a big deal and ignored it?"

    You're going to need letters from your neighbors stating that they don't mind one bit that you have chickens in your yard. You're also going to have to provide some kind of veterinary or state inspection certifying that your animals are healthy, that they pose no disease threat, that your property is free of feces, odors and other nuisances. Photographs and a invitation to visit your property personally are good suggestions. And finally you're going to have to do all of this in a calm and logical manner. You are going to need to be pleasant, cooperative and persuasive. I don't think lying to them about your chickens and rabbits being "service animals" for some ailment or something is going to get you very far, and that has been used to the point where it's become difficult for people who really do have "service animals" to be believed.

    I'm not trying to criticize you personally. I served on my town's planning and zoning commission and currently sit on our town council and I do own chickens in town. I happen to be fortunate enough to live in a community where even in town folks have horses, mules, donkeys, steers, lambs, goats, chickens and roosters on their property. But we have ordinances protecting the non-animal owners in town from nuisances and we have a plan in place to deal with complaints plus a permit system. When you appear before your officials, remember that you are not only trying to get permission via a variance to keep your chickens and rabbits, you are paving the way for future backyard chicken owners. I wish you all the luck in the world. I would be devastated if I had to get rid of my girls, but I also know that I have a responsibility to the majority of folks in my community to enforce the ordinances on the books fairly.

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