The Fenton City Council isn't trying to ruffle any feathers, but is taking a look at a city chicken ordinance.
After some discussion, Fenton council members have asked for a proposed ordinance on the keeping of chickens in the city. Some support the ordinance the way it is written, while others say they believe residents should be able to keep hens — with restrictions.
Fenton resident Malissa Bossardet, a mother of three who lives on South Adelaide Street, is asking to keep her chickens. The animals supply organic eggs for her family, Bossardet has said, but keeping them is in violation of Fenton’s current ordinance.
Fenton council discussed the keeping of chickens in the city, at the end of Monday’s work session. City Manager Lynn Markland supplied council with copies of ordinances from other communities, to show different examples, he said. Communities are making different decisions on the issue of chickens within their borders.
Ordinances vary greatly by muncipalities around the state.
In Clare, no one can keep a rooster. Two hens are allowed. Ann Arbor’s ordinance states someone must receive permission from the city first, on the condition the resident has written consent from all residential property owners adjacent to them. No chickens are allowed in the village of Milford. Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl King referred to the city of Milan’s ordinance, which prohibits the keeping of roosters and requires chickens to be kept at least 25 feet from any home on a neighboring property.
The city’s planning commission has referred the issue to council, said Mayor Sue Osborn.
Councilman Michael Piacentini said he’d like to see a proposal of some type for Fenton.
Osborn said the city attorney needs to review the issue and create a proposed ordinance. This process will take some time, and the issue isn’t likely to appear on Monday’s city council agenda.
Councilwoman Pat Lockwood said she favors allowing a maximum of three to four hens. She referred to the village of Lake Isabella’s ordinance, which specifies setbacks on the property and requirements for fencing. Lockwood would like to see yearly inspections if chickens are allowed in Fenton, and a fee for these.
Councilman Ben Smith said he supports Fenton’s ordinance, which prohibits chickens, as it is written.
Councilman Les Bland, on the other hand, said he has no problem with people keeping hens. Residents having their own eggs is a good thing, as long as the city’s ordinance is well-written, he believes. But Bland doesn’t support the keeping of roosters, he said.
Councilman Brad Jacob said he supports chicken keeping but doesn’t see any reason for roosters. He would limit it to five hens. The animals don’t smell, aren’t noisy and are easier to take care of than a dog — and a lot less hassle, Jacob said.
Markland asked whether council wanted to consider other types of farm animals, while it is discussing chickens.
Smith mentioned goats.
Bland replied that the chicken question has been brought to council, and that of other animals has not.
Jacob said he believes council needs to take it as it comes.