I'm an outlaw... and I aint going down without a fight

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by jgervais, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. jgervais

    jgervais Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2011
    Jackson, MI
    I live just outside of Jackson, MI on 2.5 acres on a road where most have at least 5+ acres. My neighbors two doors down on the right have horses and the ones across the street raise cattle. Yet for some reason it is illegal to have chickens on less than 5 acres. Our neighbor to the left owns the property vacant property to our right as well, since he has to hear the roosters and sees our hens free ranging on his property, we make sure he is happy with free eggs and baked goods. And he is happy. But the neighbor a few doors down sent an 'anonymous' letter saying we need 5 acres to have chickens. Now I feel like were on the radar. And its just a matter of time before we get a real threatening letter from the township.

    I assume the process is long and usually fails to change the townships zoning to allow chickens? It seem absurd on 2+ acres I can't have a few chickens.
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I agree with you. DH and I recently looked at some properties and found one we really liked for the house and everything else about it. It is on 1 acre and since we are currently allowed a dozen chickens in an urban backyard, I thought how wonderful it would be for the chickens to have the extra space to free-range....until I found out that in that county (neighboring to mine), you can't have chickens unless you have at least 3 acres.
  3. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    [​IMG] I would never live somewhere where someone can tell me what I can and can not have or do on my property. Good luck and hopefully you resolve your issues.
  4. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    You are right that a neighbor has you in their sights. I would not do anything until you are reported.Could look into changing the 5 acre rule down to 1 or 2 then actually file when you get reported. If I had neighbors reporting me I would probably want to move anyway.
  5. jgervais

    jgervais Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2011
    Jackson, MI
    I would love 20 acres where I was allowed to do what I wanted. But $ is always an issue with a single working household. It's a decent place to live other than this pesky chicken problem.

    I agree - not doing a thing until an official township warning. Then ill start my fight [​IMG]

    Does that "theyre not farm animals theyre pets" thing actually work?
  6. avidhomestead

    avidhomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 12, 2011
    Brevard County, FL
    Does that "theyre not farm animals theyre pets" thing actually work?

    In my experience, usually not but each case is different.

    Start doing some homework - Go to the zoning office and get a copy of your parcel's land use (zoning) and get a copy of the Ordinances as they apply to you. If you live in a township or city you will need to get it from there and most likely the county level also since alot of communities adopt the county's code/ordinances which puts the burden of enforcement on the county in a lot of cases.

    If it looks like you are in violation start looking for loop holes - yes, there just might be some. We were cited for having lambs on our 2 acres but we'd be ok if we had horses. Turns out there was an exception for lambs for 6 months/yr if they were part of a four-H project so our 8 yr old got signed up and got Code Enforcement off our back for the time being.

    We were already in the planning stages for our chicken coop and had obtained some of the materials when we found out we were allowed only one hen.

    We've started a petition (online and paper distributed at the feed stores) and we're taking it to the County Commisioners around April or so to try and get code changed to allow traditional homesteading which obviously includes chickens but also rabbits, goats, lambs quail, ducks and turkeys. We'll be formulating the types of animals to zoning to parcel size recommendations, something like 2 hens per .1 acre to a maximum of 20, etc.

    In my case, I can tell you that I've gotten way farther with Zoning and Code Enforcement by not yelling or whipping out 'constitutional violations' or 'farmers rights' and such. These people get yelled at by the people complaining about your chickens and the people they are citing (those like us) - I'm not saying I like them or their purpose when it comes to sillyness like being allowed 8 horses, one hen and 4 dogs but not lambs or goats or quail...but if you are dealing with some sensible people in Zoning and Code Enforcement try to work with them to identify solutions like Adminstrative Relief or Variance/Conditional Use permits and how to see about getting Code changed. Taking a hard line off the bat will most likely get you what you want least. There is a time to take a hard line and it's not Zoning or Code Enforcement, they can't change the Code/Ordinance. Take the hard line with the local authority (usually Commisioners) that can actually change the code/ordinace.

    If you have to go the petition route and seek a change to code/ordinace then start researching how other communities did it and, if you want, I can set up an online petition for you.

  7. chickflick

    chickflick Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 10, 2007
    Since you have farm animals all around you, go for the MI Right to Farm Act. That's what saved me in Davison, MI. Look into it....
  8. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Quote:If your property is zoned for agricultural or rural zoning, the MRTFA might just save you on this one. It has yet to override zoning but could very well override the acreage minimum as long as you follow the GAAMPs.
  9. chickmashnoon

    chickmashnoon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Can you ask your neighbor to the left to say that raising chickens is a joint venture? Since he gets eggs he might be willing, and if you both claim ownership, between the two of you there is far more than 5 acres of land owned. All he has to do is say his investment is helping to care for them, or maybe to allow them to forage on his land. Don't know if it would work or not, but worth a try.
  10. jgervais

    jgervais Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2011
    Jackson, MI
    Quote:Nice. He said we could move our coops a few feet onto his property and claim they are his chickens, but this sounds much better. That would be a huge pain to move coops since we have fence dug into the group for predator control.

    Thanks for all the good info on here - I think I have some ammo built, so Im just gonna sit back and relax until or even if we ever get an official warning.

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