WARREN, MI backyard chicken laws?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by sarahnichole531, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. No that says local government can't pass laws that extend or revise the RTFA, it does not state they can't pass laws prohibiting farming outside of what is specified in the RTFA... The PDF linked below (although possibly outdated) says that no court has yet addressed the above preemption... The other preemption in the RTFA applies to GAAMPS compliant farms, and to the best of my knowledge at this time there is no GAAMPS that are direclty applicable to backyard chickens beyond Category 4, a category that the RTFA allows localities to regulate and even prohibit, as evidenced in theses articles, unless something has changed int he last couple of years? http://www.inquisitr.com/1235774/mi...farewell-to-backyard-chickens-and-beekeepers/ http://upnorthlive.com/news/neighbo...-on-new-right-to-farm-requirements?id=1046974 The new Category 4 GAAMPS applies to farms with less than 5000 laying hens (aka backyard chickens) and states that local municipalities can in fact decide if they want to allow them or prohibit them or regulate them... The Category 4 wording that give localities authority to relate without violating the RTFA “…the possession and raising of animals may be authorized in such areas pursuant to a local ordinance desired for that purpose.”
    A very important issue is the RTFA is an affirmative defense that that you can invoke to get off the charges, the charges can still be enforced and made putting you in the position to prove the RTFA applies to your specific case and is applicable to your case... These two PDFs summarize the issues pretty well, and I stand by what I stated that the RTFA does not guarantee you are right to farm as written nor does it forbid localities from placing any restrictions on farming as currently written, it';s far from that black and white in fact just the opposite it's a very gray area right now... http://www.bsmlawpc.com/municipal_l...Article_Right_to_Farm_Zoning_Regs_Invalid.pdf http://blogs.mml.org/wp/cc/files/2015/03/BREAKOUT-Urban-Farming.pdf
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  2. wingless

    wingless Songster

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    MeepBeep, you've raised a lot of questions, and I'll address each one with apologies for the length of this response.

    1. You said: "No that says local government can't pass laws that extend or revise the RTFA, it does not state they can't pass laws prohibiting farming outside of what is specified in the RTFA... The PDF linked below (although possibly outdated) says that no court has yet addressed the above preemption..."

    The law DOES say exactly that, twice, as bolded below.

    "(6) Beginning June 1, 2000, except as otherwise provided in this section, it is the express legislative intent that this act preempt any local ordinance, regulation, or resolution that purports to extend or revise in any manner the provisions of this act or generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a local unit of government shall not enact, maintain, or enforce an ordinance, regulation, or resolution that conflicts in any manner with this act or generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act."

    Not sure which pdf you're referring to in the last part of this question, so I won't address that.

    2. You then talked a lot about Category 4 sites, which were newly defined in the 2014 GAAMPs. As you may know, these GAAMP changes were the most contested changes in GAAMPs history in Michigan, with MDARD receiving over 700 public responses during the 2 week public comment period, and hundreds more responses coming in after the deadline. Meetings of the Agriculture Commission were extended by hours to accommodate all the additional public comments during those meetings. A book was published with excerpts from those public comments because they expressed the wide range of reasons that engaging in small-scale agriculture is so important to so many people. I personally spent a lot of time on that book because I think there is nothing else that comes close to adequately expressing why this issue is so important to so many.

    However, in the end the 2014 GAAMPs were passed, on a 4-1 vote of the Agriculture Commission, and included the new Category 4 designation. If you believe that the GAAMPs have more authority than the law, then those of us in residentially zoned areas did indeed lose Right to Farm protection on that day. On the other hand, if you believe that the law has more authority than the GAAMPs, then nothing changed with respect to our legal rights because the law itself did not change. That is my view, but the real test will come when someone challenges the 2014 GAAMPs in court, so we can get the views of a judge.

    Finally, I agree with you that this is all a gray area right now, but importantly it is not gray because the law isn't clear or because the court cases are not clear. The law is clear, and the 4 cases at the Appeals Court level since 1999 that have dealt with RTF cases in residentially zoned areas are clear. It took me many years to understand all of this, but I do think the law and the court cases are very clear, and support the position that RTF protects all farms regardless of size or place. Yes, you do have to be commercial (sell a few eggs) and you do have to follow applicable GAAMPs, but there are no boundaries defined by zoning that otherwise determines who is and who is not protected. The law does forbid that, and indeed that was the whole point of the 1999 amendment.

    The reason the issue is "gray" is because the Michigan Department of Agricuture has actively chosen to muddy the waters to make it seem as if we are not protected. Before 2011 they did this in personal ways, by telling individuals in residentially zoned areas that GAAMPs inspections were not applicable to them, and by telling townships that their residents were not protected by RTF. And then in 2011, after Snyder became Governor, they added additional layers of confusion by making changes to the GAAMPS in 2012 and 2014 that conflict with the protections articulated for every Michigan citizen in the RTF Act.

    My name is Wendy Lockwood Banka. I became involved in these issues on the RTF thread on BYC that I previously posted. In 2012 on that thread we came to realize the GAAMPs were newly being used to restrict RTF rights in a way that we thought was both not right and not legal, so we started attended meetings of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture. By the end of that year we formed the Michigan Small Farm Council so we could advocate for these rights in an organized way at the state level. We remain an all-volunteer organization that is mostly self-funded, but we are as committed as ever to small farm rights, and to demanding that our state agencies comply with our laws as written and as interpreted by the courts. We believe that all of you in Warren are protected by Right to Farm in Michigan so long as you are commercial (sell eggs) and follow applicable GAAMPs. If any of you chose to go to court to defend those rights we will stand with you, and may even be able to help finance such an effort. Three of our board members have fought such cases in court, and two have won. We understand how difficult it is to stand up for these rights in a court of law, and also how important.
     

  3. I thought the fact I said "The PDF linked below" was pretty clear, yeah there are two PDFs, both of them address preemption, and both are good reads...

    Again I repeat in short is says they can't pass a law that conflicts with the RTFA...

    Read what you highlighted again..

    " a local unit of government shall not enact, maintain, or enforce an ordinance, regulation, or resolution that conflicts in any manner with this act or generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act."

    If the local government is following the Category 4 GAAMP a rule that in black and white grants them the authority to pass laws restricting farming (the one that is best applicable to backyard chicken keepers) then their law(s) are not in conflict with the RTFA or the GAAMP they are compliant...

    The law as written depends on the GAAMPS wording for it's application, definition and preemption, without the GAAMPS the law for all intents is empty... In other words it's not a a matter of the GAAMPS having more authority then the law or vice versa, the GAAMPS and law are tied together as one... This is similar to a state law that says you can't grow noxious weeds as defined by the states agricultural department... The agricultural department's list of noxious weeds does not superseded the law it defines it, just like hte GAAMPS defines the RTFA...

    As for the four cases you keep bringing up, they addressed a particular affirmative defense a defense specific to that particular case, this is how affirmative defenses work, you can't apply said defense universally as the specifics between cases will differ... Feel free to Goolge up affirmative defenses to get a better understanding on how they apply on a case to case basis...

    As always it's your choice to interpret the law as you feel it's written, and if you want to spend the money invoking an affirmative defense that is your choice as well...

    I personally don't advise people to challenge or lean on unclear laws or gray areas of law, if you choose the opposite that is certainly your choice, and I hope that no one suffers for it...
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  4. wingless

    wingless Songster

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    Look, these kinds of discussions very quickly become cumbersome, so I'll stick to what seem to be the most important points.

    You said this:


    If the local government is following the Category 4 GAAMP a rule that in black and white grants them the authority to pass laws restricting farming (the one that is best applicable to backyard chicken keepers) then their law(s) are not in conflict with the RTFA or the GAAMP they are compliant...

    My response is that since 1999 the RTFA, as amended by the 1999 legislature, removed local control over the protections provided in the Right to Farm Act.

    In 2014 our state agricultural agency, MDARD, attempted to give some control back to local governments by creating Category 4 sites in the GAAMPs. That is, MDARD tried to give certain control to local governments that was taken away by the state legislature in the 1999 amendment.

    But MDARD can't give legal control back to local governments because our system of government doesn't work that way; it is legislatures and not state agencies that have the authority to change laws. Before they were called "Category 4" those kinds of sites were protected by RTF, as evidenced by 4 cases at the Appeals Court level. I personally don't believe that the next Appeals court to hear this kind of case will care very much about the new definition that MDARD invented in 2014, because they aren't charged with interpreting the GAAMPs, but rather with interpreting the law. I think the first think that court will do is to look at the law, and the second thing they will do is look at the 4 similar court cases that came before.

    You will say that the GAAMPs and the law are "tied together as one" and while I agree that the GAAMPs are tied I simply do not believe they carry the same weight. To argue that they carry the same weight is to argue that the Ag Commission can change the law. So the way this was set up was highly unusual but in this specific instance the conflict between the law and the GAAMPs is very clear: the law prohibits local governments from authority over RTF protection, and the 2014 GAAMPs require it. It is untenable, in my opinion.

    Finally, I don't advise people on their legal rights. I am not an attorney. The MSFC partnered with a legal organization filled with attorneys for that work, since we know where our expertise ends and theirs begins. I only state what I personally think after doing a lot of reading and involving myself in these issues with people who have won and lost RTF cases, with attorneys who have fought RTF cases, with the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development, with folks from MSU-Extension, and with many MSFC members who email me with their stories. And the reason I do this is certainly not because I want to tempt people to challenge gray areas of the law. It is because small farm rights are important, and they are being lost in Michigan. Right now, before our very eyes they are being lost. We may not win our battle to save small farm rights, but we certainly aren't going down without a fight.
     
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  5. VanDoll

    VanDoll Hatching

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    I also live in Warren, and my mail lady said that people in Warren DO have chickens, but she isn't aware if they are kept legally.

    As an animal rescuer, I never advise getting animals beyond your city's clear approval, as it can endanger their lives in the long run.

    However, I would
    LOVE to have chickens, and also have a fenced in half an acre, 1/2 of it being in privacy. I know that at the city hall, you may be able to inquire about special permits, if your neighbor's agree. I also wonder if it could be argued that they are "pets", as I would assume you don't have intention of selling and distributing.

    If you found anything, or have already been to city hall- please let me know. I'd also love to have a friend/neighbor with local chickens! Cheers!

    -KC
     
  6. Mpietrzyk

    Mpietrzyk Hatching

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    I am also looking into having a few chickens of my own in the city of Warren. If anyone has any new information that I could use I would greatly appreciate it!
     
  7. Farmer@❤

    [email protected] In the Brooder

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  8. Farmer@❤

    [email protected] In the Brooder

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    I also live in Warren Michigan. Have you found anything out?
     
  9. sterlingfarm

    sterlingfarm Hatching

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    I am curious too as I have 2 ducks that I'll be housing while I stay at my mom's and they certainly are pets to us as are most of our chickens; unfortunately my mom only approved on the ducks. bummer. I have some beautiful bantam cochins
     
  10. NinjaLimaBean

    NinjaLimaBean Hatching

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