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Chickens Might Have to 'Fly the Coop' in Fenton

Bossardets ask for an ordinance that would allow their egg-layers.

Her family's chickens are easy to keep, sixth-grader Olivia Bossardet told on Monday. They eat everything, including insects, grass, string cheese and leftovers from the and

The eggs are safe and organic, with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acid, vitamin A and other vitamins. Three hens lay an average of two eggs per day, and her family sells the eggs for $3 per dozen. Each of her three children recieve a dollar from the sale, said mother Malissa Bossardet.

It's a big trend in cities like New York, San Francisco, Lansing and Grand Rapids, to allow people to keep chickens, she said. She didn't know they weren't allowed in the city of Fenton when she brought some home.

Now some residents and city council members are squawking. They don't want to live near chickens because of the potential for noise and odors, while the Bossardets want to change Fenton's ordinance so the animals are allowed.

A lot of people have approached Mayor Sue Osborn, saying they don't want a chicken coop next to their house, Osborn said. "It's kind of a touchy situation."

Resident Cherie Smith, of the Beautification Commission, also said people have contacted her about the issue. "I got a phone call from a tradesperson who was 'driven insane' by the crowing of roosters."

She and her husband Ben, a city council member, once lived near a neighbor who had chickens, including roosters. "They crowed," Cherie Smith said. "If I had a vote, I'd vote no. I don't want to live by chickens."

Bossardet said her house was voted one of the most beautiful in Fenton, and she has about an acre of land. Her family keeps it very clean, and Fenton has ordinances in place that protect people from odor and noise.

None of her neighbors have complained, and "They love the eggs," she said.

Councilwoman Cheryl King said, many times neighbors say they don't have a problem with something because they don't want to offend people who live near them.

Bossardet said her neighbors have told her they'd rather listen to a couple of hens squawking instead of dogs barking. In addition, she said she isn't trying to get an ordinance that includes roosters. Her goal is for hens only to be allowed, like in most cities that have an ordinance allowing chickens.

Councilwoman Dianne North said she believes the Bossardets' chickens are great. It's something the family can do together and profit from a little. And it teaches the children about caring for animals.

And problems could arise in the city from someone having a compost pile, too many dogs or even little pet pigs, North said.

Councilman Tim Faricy said council needs to think of the broader city, and people who might not be like the Bossardets in maintaining their property and homes. In addition, many of the lot sizes in the city are much smaller than the Bossardets.'

On the other hand, "I like the effort Olivia is doing," Faricy said. "And I don't want to catch it from her friend, my granddaughter."

Councilman Brad Jacob said his brother decided to get chickens, telling his neighbors what he was doing. A neighbor was worried, but Jacob's brother went ahead with it anyway, building a coop and putting the chickens in.

Eight months later, the neighbor went into their local government office and asked what he could do to stop Jacob's brother from getting chickens.

"He'd had the chickens for eight months," Jacob said. "The guy had no idea he'd had chickens."

That made every argument the man had null and void, since he'd lived next to several hens for eight months and hadn't noticed them, Jacob said. His brother did not have a rooster, and it would be good to prohibit roosters in Fenton to control noise, Jacob added.

Osborn said she will check to see what other cities are doing on the issue of chickens, and talk to Fenton's zoning administrator. "I am curious to see how other cities are dealing with it."

She is a single mother of three, including one child with autism, Bossardet said. In addition, food is very expensive and a lot of it contains pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Her chickens produce fresh, organic eggs for the family.

North said, the bottom line is, "You can have somebody move in who has 17 cats."

At the end of the council work session, Cherie Smith said she believe Bossardet went about the chicken issue backward.

Osborn said Bossardet should have gone to the planning commission for a special use permit, before getting the chickens. The Bossardet family does have a large lot. "You also have to consider everyone in the city," Osborn said.

michael henk October 05, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I, too, have chickens in the city of Fenton. My neighbors are okay with it, there are no complaints, they even bring their kids to visit the coop. Before getting the chicks, I researched the ordinances in Fenton, and found that livestock and fowl are allowed, with certain criteria, in Part II, Chapter 5, Sec. 5.4, which reads in part: "Sec. 5-4. - Keeping regulations.(a) ... and not less than 25 square footage for rabbits or poultry. (b) ... (c) All parts of any yard, pen, shelter or building provided and maintained as hereinbefore provided shall be not less than 200 feet from any building used for dwelling purposes. (Code 1967, § 3-204)". WIth this in mind, I built an enclosed coop and hutch over 260' from the nearest dwelling, which is my house. The unit is over 300' from the nearest neighbor. Like the Bossardet family, we have no rooster and collect the eggs daily for our consumption and for others to enjoy. We also are fighting the current economy, and having the chickens provides us with healthy, fresh food. I can understand the concerns of allowing chickens in a small yard or near a home, but this has already been addressed when the ordinances were written. There will always be people who complain about something their neighbors do, whether it is legal or not. Changing the current ordinance to forbid chickens would be a knee-jerk reaction to a few people's issues. Fenton - Join the progressive trend in the nation - Accept Chickens!!
Stephanie McMunigal October 05, 2011 at 02:38 PM
They own an acre, the chickens are well kept. Perhaps the city of Fenton could stop trying to be so politically correct and look at the good in this. A family is working together to care for animals so they can eat healthy and make a little money during this horrible economic period of time. This family is doing a great thing, Hens are acceptable. Check this out...I think Sesame Street & those fighting hunger would give this family two thumbs up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhJ6hfbn4x8
Carrie October 05, 2011 at 02:47 PM
i also looked up the same ordinance before we moved to Fenton this summer. We plan on getting a few chickens in the spring. Seriously, these people are doing somethng good, they are taking care of their chicken and maintaining them. They don't even have roosters so I don't know why that is an issue. I saw the mention of comopost bins? Is that not allowed?
Ryan Sovis October 05, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I own a small farm in Mundy Town Ship. I am planning on raising A steer for the beef. and chickens for there eggs and meat as well. We never know what we are getting from the stores now day . Look at the out break with the Melons. Who would turn down something fresh over who knows where it came from or how old it is...
Ron McClellan October 05, 2011 at 04:04 PM
One mistake many elected officials make and Tim Faricy is making it too, is they seem to be under the erroneous impression that baseless fears and concerns of "the many" supersede the liberties and rights of "the few." They Don't. This counties root principle is the rights of the few are protected against the whims and paranoia of the many. Virtually every objection mentioned in the article is easily disproven and are essentially fairy tales. Councilperson Osborn is nuts, in my opinion. As an American, I'll be damned if I'm gonna subject myself to a "special use permit" to raise a few chickens which I am at liberty to do. Councilman Jacob was close, and that IS how most of the losers who complain about our birds operate. Clueless, just looking for a reason to rain on a neighbors parade. He's wrong about roosters though. They SHOULD be allowed, and even the noisiest, loudest rooster is nowhere NEAR as infringing on the quiet enjoyment rights of others as a typical yappy dog in someones yard.
Jen Peters October 05, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I'm so very happy to read a lot of well thought out and positive arguments on this article! i'm a fan of chickens in city limits as well, with the mentioned provisions (no roosters, distances from buildings, etc), and agree that other ordinances such as noise and odor are already on the books should those issues arise. i hope there is another way we could all voice our support to the city, if there is, please let us know Fenton Patch!
Ron McClellan October 05, 2011 at 08:11 PM
I'm not sure why the "no roosters" idea has any traction whatsoever. THere is virtually nothing wrong with a few roosters. They primarily disturb people who are looking for a reason to be disturbed anyway. They aren't any more of an infringement on the rights of others, by virtually any measure, than a dog or cat. Quite the contrary. Al least roosters generally settle in for the evening, whereas many dogs will bark all night, and cat's will howl and caterwaul all night too. And 200 feet is simply arbitrary an unreasonable too. Why on earth would 6 chickens need to be kept that far from a dwelling? Now if someone had 200 chickens, that might make more sense. But 6 chickens? Even a dozen? Why? The bottom line is that there should really be "No Ordinance" against the hobby keeping of poultry. Any individual situation that ends up causing problems can be dealt with via already existing general health, nuisance, and general building code ordinances. People who take issue with the poultry keeping hobby are doing so out of ignorance. It really is NOT a matter of opinion. Folks can be of the Opinion that chickens will inherently stink, will absolutely attract predators, be noisier than a dog, etc But they are simply wrong, be it their opinion or not. Them being wrong should not impede me from exercising my right to pursuit of life and liberty .They really are like Chicken Little. The sky will not fall on Fenton if we keep a few chickens in our back yards, even a Rooster.
Jason Alexander (Editor) October 06, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Jen, we are always open to running letters to the editor. Let us know your opinions, don't maliciously attack anyone and keep it to 500 words or less and we will post it! Just email jason.alexander@patch.com
Jones February 11, 2012 at 05:23 AM
In Andover Woods, we have one resident that wants the City of Fenton to build an ordinance against my backyard ice rink. This is something we have built for six years for the kids in the neighborhood. What’s next, rules against soccer nets, volley ball nets in the yard? Why does the council accommodate single complaint? Isn't this America? Whatever happened to the majority? Just because the housing market has reduced our home values, does not mean we need to take our frustrations out on each other. We all have to live together. I think a very smart man said to love your neighbor.
Sean Rosekrans February 12, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I agree completely. Neighbors should mind their own business unless it affects them in a way that can be proven harmful.
Sean Rosekrans February 12, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I am sorry you are having this problem. I have a neighbor just like this who believes the world revolves around him. I hope you prevail in this issue. The neighborhood kids benefit greatly from the rink. It just goes to show how neighborhood associations can cause trouble. No one should have to live under their rules.
Kasia March 01, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I just purchased my first home and it's outside of city limits. I have been browsing the web and called the township for any information regarding hobby farming chickens on my 5.5 acre (barn included) oasis, and everything has been screaming "NO". Pft! To that! Township even told me I needed a min. of ten acres for ANY ag. animals. Right. So I've been scrounging for info to bypass the ridiculousness and I've found this website! I'm so ecstatic to see so many pro chicken posts within city limits, let alone my little dream on the edge of the city! I'm young, I grew up surrounded by animals, learning the ways of life, and I believe it must be instilled in our fast paced society now more than ever. What's a few chickens, a couple goats, or a cow compared to a howling dog and the outdoor cat that leaves cute paw prints on your windshield? Why is maintaining your own life everyone else's business anyway? Dear Fenton, make the right decision, please.
Sean Rosekrans March 01, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I agree with everything you wrote. I hope the council does the right thing and allows the chickens.
Ron McClellan March 01, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Kasia, Get the specific code your city claims backs up their "no!" opinion. It should be available on their website or maybe from municode. My city also told me I couldn't keep chickens. Took fifteen minutes to put that myth to rest. Most cites that say "no" do have ordinances to back it up somewhat, but this mythical restriction happens more often than people might think.
Kasia March 02, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Ron, Thank you for some direction! I found the article, (via municode) in Fenton's code of ordinances, that Michael Henk had posted above! It lists the provisions of the space, distance, and cleanliness required.... And that's IT! :) I'm glad to have found something solidified in text (helps to pursuade the husband) to back me up! Thank you again!
Ron McClellan March 02, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Good for you Kasia! Another thing ya can do is Sign up with a Facebook group I've started, called "Georgia Chickens." Even if you aren't from Georgia, you might find it useful . . .if enough folks participate, anyway. Most "pro chicken" citizens groups go about trying to get/keep chickens legal go about it TOTALLY the wrong way. They try the way it's "supposed" to work, which sadly, has little bearing in reality on how local politics "actually" works. This is why most groups fail, or at best spend years trying to get what is already their right. It's a fight, a dirty, nasty, fight in most cases. I've been dealing with City Councils and County Commissions for decades, and I learned a LONG time ago, most of these governing bodies are more concerned with perceptions than reality. Most folks think simply stating the benefits and nullifying the myths are the key. Nope. Should be . . .but they aren't. They're actually a pretty tiny part of the equation. The best way to look at "the facts" involved is as the "declaration of war" putting officials on notice that they are about to be in a fight. Most groups/individuals think that is the entire battle . . .and get their tails kicked.

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