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Need help with understanding/changing laws in Harrison Twp, MI

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by ncarbary, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. ncarbary

    ncarbary Hatching

    Jul 22, 2010
    I would really love to raise a few hens! However, I live in a Township that apperently will not allow it. When I inquired, I was given the below explanation:

    Chickens are considered farms animals and fall under the Agricultural Uses and are permitted in a R-1-A district only.

    Minimum area of lots in the R-1-A district which are used, in whole or part, for agricultural purposes, shall be five acres, with a minimum frontage of 300 feet.

    I am zoned R1B and have about 1/3 of an acre.

    I understand there is a Michigan Right to Farm Act that allows people to raise chickens in the City, however, I believe I heard that it does not trump the City/Township rules regarding zoning?

    Can anyone let me know if I have a chance in raising some chickens, or am I screwed?

    Is there anyone else on this board that lives in Harrison Township and that has looked into this?

    Thank you in advance for any help you can give! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  2. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Read the entire Michigan Right to Farm Act thread. Yes, this state law trumps all local ordinances (as does any state law), including zoning. However, the farming must be commercial and must follow GAAMPS.
  3. moetrout

    moetrout Songster

    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    Michigan has a very strong right to farm act. They can't stop you!
  4. Denninmi

    Denninmi Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    Quote:I doing my own research on this recently, it appears to me that basically, the only real requirements are

    1) commercial intent -- you don't have to show a profit or make a big production out of it, you just have to be able to prove that you are raising them with the intent of selling products produced from them. Now, that being said, the township could really nitpick. If you say you're selling eggs for consumption and have roosters, for example, they might try to force you to get rid of just the roosters. So, bascially, what I did was come up with my price list of products -- live birds, hatching eggs, feathers, organic fertilizer made from bird poo, eating eggs, etc., that covers all of the bases. You could maybe even offer rooster "stud service" perhaps? Your customers can be anyone -- sell some stuff to family members, keep basic records, and file a Schedule F with your taxes next year showing either a tiny loss or tiny profit.

    2) The GAAMP's are really simple to follow for small backyard folks -- they're just common sense -- adequate food, shelter, light, sanitation, humane treatment. I mean, really, we probably treat our birds about 1000 % better than a some poorly run commercial operations, so this one is a no-brainer. But, you have to KNOW the rules and have a plan in place to show that you are following them.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2010
  5. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Chirping

    Mar 17, 2010
    My opinion, you can't have chickens where you are located. You must have 5 acres or more to have chickens. All the "right to farm act" does is protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits. It will not protect you in zoning disputes. Ohio law and "right to farm" is very similar.
  6. gallinamama

    gallinamama Songster

    May 14, 2010
    Macomb, Michigan
    Hi we are nearly neighbors!! I live in Macomb Township, MI..... Have you asked your neighbors if they would mind? if they do not mind... and make sure you do not have a rooster to crow in the morning... I don't think you should even have to tell anyone. I do live in 5 acres so there isn't a problem here... but my neighbors are thrilled... She used to have chickens when she was young in Tenn. and my other neighbor raises chickens herself. I would just clear it with both neighbors and raise your chickens... as long as you keep it nice ... who should mind? Chickens are quieter than dogs!! easier to take care of too... I just started this April. I have 9 but now I think I have one or more Roosters... I know I have one because he has started to crow... if that is what you call it.. [​IMG] it is really weak... they are a lot of fun... It has been interesting. Good luck to you... and I hope you get the chance to raise your chickens.

  7. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Quote:You have obviously not read the Michigan Right to Farm Act Thread, including the links to and quotes for court cases, there is no minimum size of land; zoning does not override state law. These are court rulings.
  8. theFox

    theFox Songster

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine

    Towns, cities, and counties only have as much lawmaking power as the granting entity allows them. The granting entity in such instances is the state.

    Michigan has basically removed some power from the minor jurisdictions. Those jurisdictions have been on the short end of almost every case that has made it to court.
  9. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Chirping

    Mar 17, 2010

    286.473 section 3 (1) and (2).

    You need the reference to Michigan state law concerning agriculture which I did not look up. If the state law requires 5 or more acres for agriculture you cannot have poultry on 1/3 acre.

    The op would be benefitted by contacting an attorney regarding agriculture laws. Check with the state university. I don't want you to go through the heartache I have just been through.
  10. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Quote:I see no mention in the act of a 5 acre minimum. If you look at the definitions, in the section previous to what you cited, it also does not list minimum size.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=182280&p=4 (post #32)

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=182280&p=6 (post #54)

    Court ruling: http://mi.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.\MI\2005\20050623_0001546.MI.htm/qx excerpt:
    The language of the statute is unambiguous and clearly states that a local ordinance is preempted when it purports to extend or revise the RTFA or GAAMPs. It further plainly states that a local unit of government shall not enforce an ordinance that conflicts in any manner with the RTFA or GAAMPs. It is undisputed that plaintiff's Ordinance No. 212.9 § 9.10(A), which was in force when defendants bought the property in 1995, prohibited raising poultry on a parcel smaller than three acres. It is also undisputed that the property did not exceed 1.074 acres. The relevant GAAMPs provide for the proper management practices for poultry farming, including, but not limited, to facilities, manure management and care of chickens and turkeys. Plaintiff has not produced, and we are unable to find, any GAAMP that limits poultry farming to property consisting of more than three acres. As we concluded above, if defendants' farm is commercial in nature and in compliance with the GAAMPs, it is a farm operation protected by the RTFA. The ordinance conflicts with the RTFA to the extent that it allows plaintiff to preclude a protected farm operation by limiting the size of a farm.

    Additional court ruling: https://www.glrsonline.com/Course1000/Module2/Lesson3/woodland_hills_v_thetford.pdf excerpt:
    This Court has previously held that where a zoning ordinance prevents an individual from
    operating a farm on a parcel of land because of the small size of that parcel, that ordinance is
    preempted by the RTFA where the RTFA would otherwise protect the operation.

    To sum it up, courts have ruled that there is no minimum size to be considered a farm.​

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