How do I go about this? (Challenging the city to change codes)

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by freeda, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. freeda

    freeda In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2008
    I spent some time on the phone with the city development office today. They do NOT permit chickens on properties of less than 10 acres. However, the lady encouraged me to put together a presentation for the city board or whoever, because she gets calls fairly regularly asking about chickens.

    So... I know some here have done it. Who, and how?
  2. ticks

    ticks Pheasant Obsessed

    Apr 1, 2008
    The Sticks, Vermont
    I think Envirogirl11 and Seachick have information about this.
  3. freeda

    freeda In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2008
    Thank you!

    Let me share what I wrote so far, and maybe you guys can help me in any weak spots?

    Dear Mr. Ericson,

    Portage does not currently allow chickens on residential lots of less than ten acres. I would like to ask you to consider changing that policy. More and more people are considering raising their own food, for many reasons. The concerns are economic - Michigan’s skyrocketing unemployment rate and ever-rising fuel costs. They are health concerns, about hormones and chemicals in our food. The concerns are also for humane treatment -- cruel practices such as beak-clipping, hobbling, and miniscule cages are common in commercial eggerys.

    Chickens as agriculture, or pets?

    There are a couple of ways to look at urban chickens. One is that they are an “agricultural” product. Agricultural use implies that the chickens are being raised in volume, and in order to bring them to market. Raising them for home consumption should not be treated any differently than the watermelons in my back yard, as they are not a market product.

    Another way to look at them is as a pet. Why is it okay to have a pit bull or python, but not a chicken? How is any creature less of a pet because it happens to lay eggs?

    It also seems strange that horses are allowed in Portage on properties of more than two acres, but chickens are not allowed on properties of less than ten acres. This is quite disproportionate to the physical demands of each species. Horses create far more noise and waste than chickens, and they are permitted on 1/5 the land, although they are hundreds of times larger. Does this make sense to you?

    Why Chickens?

    Home-raised chickens have many benefits. They are small, easy to care for, and provide protein rich food. You are able to control how the chickens eat and how they are treated. Chicken waste is a wonderful nitrogen-rich fertilizer. They are natural pest control, eating grubs, aphids, and other garden pests. Producing food in your own back yard helps to minimize your carbon footprint, as it not only eliminates the gas you use to go to the store, but the gas that it took to ship the food to the store from its source.


    The three concerns that arise when you think of having chickens in a residential environment are noise, sanitation and appearance. Noise can be handled by banning roosters. An average hen only clucks a few times a day, which is far less noise than your average dog. It’s certainly less noise than any dog in my neighborhood!

    Sanitation is also an issue that is easily dealt with, and it is not any more challenging than dealing with dog waste. Appearance may be the biggest concern in an image conscious community. However, most people put their coops in the backyard, and they are not very noticeable. You can see by the attached images that it is very simple to make a coop and run that is attractive and inconspicuous.

    Chicken coops – they aren’t huge, or ugly!

    (Here I have pics of 3 lovely chicken coops w/attached runs.)

    Chicken ordinance elements

    Several large cities are chicken-friendly: Salem Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin. Although some cities, such as New York City, do not have any limits on chicken-raising, many cities have ordinances that are more restrictive.

    Elements you may want to consider for a Portage chicken ordinance:

    Permits – some cities require a chicken permit and fee.
    Qualifying properties – most are limited to single family homes and duplexes.
    Quantity – many cities limit the number of chickens to 4. It would be nice to have separate limits for bantam breeds, as they are only ¼ the size of standard breeds (about the size of a parrot).
    Roosters – generally forbidden, as they are the loud ones, and they are not necessary to stimulate egg production by hens. Hens are normally quiet.
    Sanitation requirements - similar to those of any other pet.
    Dwelling – chicken coops must be a certain size. A 3x4 coop with a 3x8 run is more than adequate for 4 chickens.
    Containment – chickens must be in a fenced area, not free-range, in order to avoid causing accidents or injury.
    Proximity – chickens must be no closer than 25 feet from neighbor’s dwelling, and no closer than 10 feet to a property line.
    Butchering – may or may not be allowed, depending on the city.

    Thank you for your time. Please contact me to discuss the issue further! My number is xxxxxxxxx.


    Rev. Marion Koleski

    Whatcha think?
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Hi Marion-
    Having just been through this last year, I do have some recommendations for you. Check your email and PM, and give me a shout if you'd like to talk.
    Best wishes,
  5. conny63malies

    conny63malies Crowing

    Mar 22, 2008
    Annetta Kentucky
    I also would like to change city code for poultry possesion. May i use your letter with modifications as a base for my own fight? I want to add this up to 4000sqf land 3 chickens 4001 - 8000 sqf 4 chickens
    8000-1200sqf 6 chickens

    and 12.000sqf + 8 chickens max.

    should there be a requiremend as on from what time in the morning to what time in the evening they are allowed outside?
  6. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    connie, if you want, feel free to use any/all of the info on the site we made for our "campaign". Also, I'm happy to email you Microsoft Word docs of the letters and stuff we sent out city during our successful campaign. Email me direct....
  7. robinaggie

    robinaggie Flew the Coop

    May 25, 2008
    Houston, Texas also allows chickens.
  8. freeda

    freeda In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2008
    Of course, Connie, take whatever you like! [​IMG] I'll post the final version when I'm done with it.

    Thanks for any/all help everyone! I appreciate it!
  9. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Good luck! Go city chickens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Crowing

    Feb 15, 2007
    Austin area, Texas
    Austin, Texas allows chickens as well. I live in one of Austin's suburbs, I've attached the website for the local ordinance. I think they did a good job of defining what is allowed, where it is allowed and what isn't allowed, but left it pretty open. Going in with a well written ordinance in hand might be helpful.

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