One more ignorant neighbor

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by K8tieCat, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. K8tieCat

    K8tieCat Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Northern California

    Yesterday when I got home from work, animal control had left me a note wanting to meet with me about my chickens because someone complained that I had 12 instead of 10 and that my coop was too big and not far enough away from the fence, and that I let them outside their pen at night.

    Boy, I'm in a quandry and thought maybe you might have some thoughtful input as to what I can do about this very upsetting development.

    Someone (I'm guessing the same person) complained some time ago about my shed before I even finished building it, saying that I had built something huge without a permit. This was while the chicks were still in the house. At that time I was visited by the code enforcement people who ended up giving me thumbs up.

    Now that the chicks are in their run and I let them outside with me in the afternoons after work, someone (the same person) has made a formal complaint to animal control because the chicks are "outside at night" and that....oh my god we're all going to die...I have 12 chicks instead of 10!!! I If even one person had objected beforehand, I never would have even followed through with this project at all because I didn't want to make anyone unhappy, and is also precisely why I did not get a rooster. I got two extra chicks because I thought one or more might die in transport and I may end up with a rooster or two.

    I suspect that whoever has complained doesn't really know anything about chickens or understand any of their benefits. I was told that I had to reduce my flock by two and move the pen & coop 20' from the fence line within the next 30 days (it's about 10' now and is not within 50' of any living area). I can't move the coop, it's unmovable as it is on a concrete slab and the run is entirely set in a concrete perimeter. So now I'm stuck.

    I was disappointed that the animal control officer couldn't tell me who was complaining so I could have a reasonable face to face conversation with them. The officer was kind enough to call the complainer and offered to give them my phone number so we could talk, but the complainer was 'chicken' (lol) and wanted to remain forever anonymous and never wants his/her name to come out in public. If the officer gives me a citation, then the complainer would have to go to court, and they don't want that either. When the officer told them I was allowed to have chickens, they acted surprised and conceded that they would stop complaining if I got rid of two and kept the chicks locked up 24x7. So I question whether they were surprised at all since they knew I could only have ten and I have twelve. So tell me what difference two hens make? How do I choose which ones of my pets to kill or give away?

    So now I have sort of a concession, but my pets are the ones who will suffer from that kind of arrangement. It is cruel and unusual punishment for them and will create more work for me.

    It is my educated opinion that keeping the chicks locked up 24x7 is bad for them and not only will make them sad but could also be unhealthy for them because they won't get the little extra exercise or nutrients they pick up during a couple hours of grazing. Besides, I got them primarily for pest control with the added benefit of free fertilizer and eggs...... and never even knew they could mow my lawn. The complainer obviously doesn't understand, and must be thoroughly ignorant about chickens. I wonder what kinds of old wives tales they may be relying on for information or belief system about poultry?

    I'm thinking of maybe doing some kind of plea to the City on behalf of my new pets to see if I can let them free range in my back yard as long as I'm with them. I figure the City might be more apt to listen to many voices, especially if they knew we all wanted fresh, untreated, organic eggs and that most neighbors are ok with them.

    All it takes is one prick to pop a balloon.

    I don't know whether to throw up or cry.
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Well, it's always tough when you aren't in compliance with the law and somebody complains. If you post in the buy/sell/trade/give away section here, at least the two chickens you have to give up could go to a good home. That might make it a little easier on you, emotionally.

    The worst part is having a permanent structure that's not in compliance. What a pain! I'm wondering if you might get away with a variance, if your next door neighbor is willing to sign a paper, saying they don't have a problem with it? They are the only ones legally effected by the position of the coop. Hopefully, they aren't the ones that complained.

    As far as letting your chickens out in the yard some of the time, I don't know what to think about that. I live in a rural area. What does your city ordinance say about it? Does it just say they're supposed to be contained and not running loose? Is your backyard fenced in? If you can tell us what the legal wording is, maybe someone else can comment on this.

    Good luck on this. I know you love your girls very much.
  3. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    Quote:The first thing you need to do is get familiar with your codes.

    You need to find out if there is indeed a legal limit to the number of birds you have. If there is, comply with it.

    You need to find out about the distance requirements for coops and sheds. As you already got a building permit for it as it exists, you may well have a bit of a leg to stand on. But, sometimes livestock buildings have different setback requirements than sheds (20' for sheds, 200' for coops here).

    Locking the birds up can mean many different things. Including in a dirt floored run, or sometimes a backyard. Dogs are normally considered restrained if they are in a fenced yard for example. The birds will not be sad or suffer if they are not running around in the flowers. Bugs will regularly and routinely sacrifice themselves in the coop and pen area.

    If you have a rooster now, cull it. And don't get one if you don't have one now.
  4. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    How frustrating! I'm so sorry that you're having to go through this.

    I agree with WoodlandWoman... worth a try on the variance. And when you take the paper around to your nearest neighbors to have them sign it, you should be able to quickly find out who was opposed to from the beginning. [​IMG]

    As far as taking them out into the yard, what about building an inexpensive tractor for them? Animal control (and your complainant) couldn't really complain that they weren't contained, and you'll still have all the benefits of moving them around the yard. Only downside is that you still might need to keep them the 20' away from that neighbor's fence; or, just take them around to that part when you are out there with them for an hour or so at a time. The added benefit of the tractor would be having a temporary shelter for them while you find a new home for the coop.

    Best of luck to you and your gals!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2007
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Great suggestion on the tractor!
  6. ThunderStruck

    ThunderStruck Songster

    May 18, 2007
    Sterling, Ohio
    My suggestion would be to go to court. there is a chance (all be it a small one) that it wouldn't even get that far. I would also suggest getting written statements on your behalf from other neighbors and friends. Take pics of your current set up. try and make as strong a statement as possible for yourself and ladies. The variance is also a great idea, as is the tractor.
  7. JackieK318

    JackieK318 Songster

    Apr 29, 2007
    I don't understand how your coop is out of compliance. It's 10' from the fence line. That's the standard. Does your city have some sort of code stating that structures for animals are to be 20' from the fence?! Take this 'chicken' to court if it gets this bad. Did they even say what they were complaining about particularly? Noise, poop, feathers, or just for living next door?!
  8. usbr

    usbr Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Sorry to hear of the tough situation but there are a few things you can do. Like was said before, check into your local codes and look into the earlier compliance check they did when you built the coop. Around here, if the local enforcement gives the OK and it later turns up to be not in compliance, its exempt. For example, if I pull a permit to build a house and I get the OK but it later turns out I am too close to a road or alley, I dont have to move it. They made a mistake, not me and they OKed it. Check into your situation to see if this applies to you.

    The other thing I would be conserned with is how the complainer knew you had 12 instead of 10. I would question weather the complainer tresspassed or if this complainer is actually a "friend" that you talk to in detail. If tresspass is a posibility, you may wish to express that consern with the compliance officer and to inform that in the future inspecting your property is against your permission unless it can be proven to you that the info they have on a violation did not come from a tresspasser. Many states have restrictions on how and when a officer such as a code inforcement officer can go on your property dispite what they want you to think or infer to you. Its basically up to you to learn the laws and keep them honist but informing them they dont have permission to go on your property is the first step.

    Quote:The officer gave you your answer right there (I added bold to the good part). I personally would call up the officer and tell them you have decided that you wont be getting rid of any chickens till they cite you for having too many. This forces his hand into talking with the complainer and letting him know that you are willing to take a ticket just to find out the name. There is a slight chance that the officer will find a way to surpress the name and still ticket you but you can also remind the officer that if he acts and tickets on anonymous tips, he better hire on more help because you predict he will be busy with alot of anonymous complaints. You may also need to remind him that if he fails to act on those complaints, that will be plenty of evidence for a "selective enforcement/harrasment" lawsuit. You would also be shocked at all the details a Freedom of Information Act. request turns up.

    I would never agree to keeping them locked up 24/7 unless it is the law (highly doubtful if you are able to own 10 chickens). The compliance officer just brought that to you in an attempt to keep the peace between you and the unknown neighbor. I would gladly work with a neighbor as best as I could if they talked to me but never if behind a compliance officer (wouldnt hurt to tell the officer that either). Dont let them bully you. Stand up for your rights.

    Keep us updated on things,
  9. kansas_twister

    kansas_twister In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2007
    s.w. kansas
    keep on top on knowing your city codes, as i see it if your with in your rights there should be no problem we're still dealing with a phyco neighbor who will not give up at any point, the only way where dealing with it is that we're moving

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