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Fenton Council Votes to Allow 3 Chickens, with Restrictions

Conditions of new ordinance can't be appealed; fines can be charged if people don't follow restrictions, city attorney says.

After spirited public comment and a failed attempt to allow six chickens, Fenton City Council voted 6-1 to allow residents to keep up to three chickens, with restrictions. The ordinance will take effect upon publication, probably within a couple of weeks, said city attorney Stephen Schultz.

The issue of chicken keeping in Fenton arose when a resident made a complaint about an having chickens. The resident, Malissa Bossardet, asked the city to allow her to keep the which she uses for eggs to feed her family. The eggs have more nutrients than those from the grocery store, and their chickens give her children a chance to go outside, get their own food and know where their food comes from, she said.

Councilman Ben Smith, who has said he doesn't support the keeping of any in the city, voted against the ordinance. He's visited Bossardet's and it's very clean. But Smith said he questions how the other 98 9/10 percent of Fenton residents would take care of chickens.

And Councilman Brad Jacob made a motion to amend the proposal, to allow two chickens per person and up to six chickens maximum. Council voted against it, 4-3.

Mayor Sue Osborn said she had a difficult time with the chicken ordinance. "No one here is not in favor of it, but I can't vote for six chickens."

It's better to start gradually, Osborn said.

Council approved allowing three chickens, with restrictions outlined in the ordinance. In addition, when it approved building and zoning fee increases, council set a $35 fee to cover the cost of annual permits for chicken keeping.

Since Fenton's ordinance is instead of zoning, there are fines for not following it, Schultz said.

After last night's meeting, Bossardet said she is very disappointed and believes Fenton has wasted nine months on the decision. Three chickens isn't enough, she believes, and the city wasted a lot of time and money. Bringing the issue back to city council in a year to see how it's working, as council discussed, will waste more time and money, Bossardet said.

"I have nine chickens," she added. "So I'm going to have some brokenhearted children."

She will need to figure out a plan for six of the chickens, she said.

Councilman Les Bland said he believes the was blown out of proportion, and he doesn't think thousands of people will come to city hall asking to have chickens. He would vote for allowing three chickens, because it's the only way the ordinance would be approved, he said.

Councilwoman Pat Lockwood said she agrees it was a long process, and she appreciates the work it took. Council researched the issue, through city administration. Since it's new for Fenton, it carries risk. It's a good ordinance, with a "ton" of restrictions, she added.

Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl King said she wouldn't vote for more than three chickens. Council can revist the issue in a year and make adjustments if needed, she said. Council members agreed on three chickens at a previous

Jacob disagreed, saying it was a default number.

Resident Gina Barnowsky said people like to be able to walk to places in Fenton but still like a small town, farm feeling. Six is a great number of chickens, to be able to provide the eggs a family needs, she said.

Her back yard is small but has privacy fencing, and neighbors wouldn't be interrupted at all by chickens. She asked whether she could keep chickens without meeting the distance requirement of at least 10 feet from a property line.

Schultz said it's a regulatory ordinance and not a zoning ordinance, so people can't appeal it. They must stay within distances the ordinance sets.

"This is barely out of the starting gate, and already we have someone asking for their property to be exempted from the rule of 10 feet," Smith said. "We've already opened the problem, and it's going to get worse."

It's three chickens today, six tomorrow, and a "year from now, someone wants ducks, or a goat, because their chickens were lonely," he said. "I still have more questions than answers."

Resident Karen Price showed council members a purse with a chicken on it, and passed out plastic eggs with chocolates and toy chickens inside. Everyone is talking about the American dream for election season, Price said. To her, that's being able to pick tomatoes and herbs in her yard and grabbing a couple of eggs from her own chickens.

There is a lot of disconnectedness in the world, and having chickens is a way to combat it, she said. It "boggles her mind" the amount of people who don't know chickens can produce eggs without a rooster in the flock, Price said.

Chickens make people laugh, lower their blood pressure and delight the soul, she added.

"I don't care what number," Price said. "I'll be so excited to have this little part of my life back."

NotLazy September 11, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Just wait til the first cock starts crowing!
emily September 11, 2012 at 12:42 PM
This is ridiculous, Fenton. It's not like you're a big city- I KNOW, I grew up there. There is no reason to get so upset about a couple chickens. GET OVER IT. A little farm life would do you some good. Get off your couch and get a few chickens(but only three, because apparently any more is far too many), and learn how to start eating without using VG's as a crutch. Maybe you'll get a taste for what life is really supposed to be about. I'm disappointed that the city spent money on such a petty decision. But this isn't news, is it?
Julie September 11, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Three chickens! Maybe they could allow mini ice rinks for up to no more than 1 .5 children though! I'm glad there are no larger problems than too many chickens or winter fun in this town!
GARY HOLLAND September 12, 2012 at 03:57 PM
EMILY Very well said. And so true, its more of what the world needs and theres alot that can be added to the Value of life, besides providing food on the table, but teaching the younger generation how we survived in the centuries before ours, and for kids to learn the reality of how Chickens are part of the food chain and life and death.
Angela September 13, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Patch left out some of the more pathetic comments. One of the council members said something like, "Let's give people a little freedom and see what happens!" (Isn't this supposed to be the land of the free?" And the council member against it complained that if we allowed chickens, ducks and goats might be next. Apparently chickens are a gateway drug, or something. I do wonder if they're seriously going to allow roosters, or just hens? Roosters protect the chickens, but I'm not sure I'd want my suburban neighbor to have one. Hens, however, are quiet. Only a nosy neighbor would even know they're there. And a chicken license - really? That's pretty pathetic. Here's an idea - leave people alone already.
emily September 21, 2012 at 05:06 PM
wow, I haven't read a comment more narrow-minded or selfish in a long time. Just because YOU don't like chickens, nobody should have them? And it's really quite rude of you to assume that people won't clean up after their chickens properly. So sad to see such judgement, when you probably have never even been into a chicken coop in Fenton, let alone spoken with one of these 'people.' Good god, you're acting like the people who want to have chickens are such terrible citizens.
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Rats and Other Vermin around Chickens http://poultry.allotment.org.uk/advice/protecting-the-flock/chickens-attracting-rats
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Can Chickens Transmit Diseases to Humans? http://www.ehow.com/facts_5035645_can-chickens-transmit-diseases-humans.html
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Do chickens attract snakes? http://www.ehow.com/how_5907648_keep-snakes-out-chicken-houses.html
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
New insights into a leading poultry disease and its risks to human health http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-01/asu-nii012609.php
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Health risks associated with raising chickens http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pdf/intown_flocks.pdf
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Health risks associated with raising chickens Many families raise a small number of chickens, particularly in rural areas. In recent years, however, raising chickens has become a popular hobby for people who live in urban areas as well. Information that promotes raising chickens touts the birds as being good pets, stress relievers, and easy to keep. Most people though, choose to keep flocks because they believe the meat and eggs they grow will be safer and less expensive than store purchased products. Whether they are pets or a source of food, there are some issues that need to be considered before deciding to raise chickens. In addition to the fact that many urban areas will not allow chickens to be raised within city/town limits, keeping chickens poses a potential health risk.
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other poultry frequently carry bacteria that can cause illness to you and your family. Baby chicks may be especially prone to shed these germs and cause human illness. Young birds are often shipped several times before they reach a permanent home. Shipment and adapting to new locations causes stress on birds and makes them more likely to shed bacteria in their droppings. While anyone can become ill from exposure to these germs, the risk of infection is especially high for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems; for example, people receiving chemotherapy or who are HIV-infected. One of the most important bacteria you need to be aware of is Salmonella.
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Birds infected with Salmonella do not usually appear sick. Salmonella lives in the intestine of infected chickens, and can be shed in large numbers in the droppings. Once shed, bacteria can spread across the chicken’s body as the bird cleans itself and throughout the environment as the chicken walks around. Therefore, it is especially important to carefully wash hands with soap and water after handling young birds or anything that has come in contact with them. If you ingest Salmonella, you may become ill. People accidentally ingest Salmonella in many ways, including eating after handling chickens or by touching their hand to their mouth while working with the birds. Typical symptoms of Salmonella infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days of exposure and may last for up to a week. Individuals with weaker immune systems commonly have more severe infections. There have been several outbreaks of human Salmonella infections resulting from handling baby chicks. See our CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4914a1.htm Many of the outbreaks
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Many of the outbreaks involved young children and most occurred in the spring around Easter. Some outbreaks have been associated with keeping chicks in the classroom. I still want to raise chickens. How can I reduce the risks to myself and my family?
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:39 PM
1. Keep baby chicks and adult chickens away from persons with weaker immune systems, including the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, patients receiving chemotherapy, and people who are infected with HIV. 2. Do not keep chickens if a household has children less than five years of age. 3. Make sure that any interaction between chicks or chickens and small children is supervised and that children wash their hands afterwards. Children less than five years of age tend to put their hands and other potentially contaminated objects into their mouths. 4. Supervise hand washing for small children to make sure that it is adequate. See our CDC website for proper hand washing guidelines: 5. Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching chickens or anything in their environment. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Bacteria on your hands can be easily transferred to objects and other people in your home. 6. Wash contaminated items with hot soapy water or with a mild bleach solution. 7. Do not eat or drink around your chickens. 8. Keep chickens away from food preparation areas. 9. Do not wash items from chicken coops like water and food dishes in the kitchen sink. 10. Do not allow chickens to roam freely around the house. 11. Frequently clean the area where chickens are kept. 12. Visit your physician if you experience abdominal pain, fever, and/or diarrhea.
EclecticCitizen September 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Additional resources: Salmonellosis associated with chicks and ducklings ---Michigan and Missouri, Spring 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. April 14, 2000; 49(14):297-29. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4914a1.htm Salmonella serotype Montevideo iInfections associated with chicks - - Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, Spring 1995 and 1996. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. March 21, 1997 / 46(11);237-239. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00046940.htm Salmonella hadar associated with pet ducklings - - Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania, 1991. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. March 20, 1992 / 41(11);185-187. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00016299.htm
emily September 24, 2012 at 01:21 PM
If I cared about any of these 'bacterial warning's' I'd be afraid to live life- much like you I suppose. Don't call me narrow minded- don't associate me with you.
emily September 25, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I'm sorry for your misfortune. Not giving in to every bacteria warning doesn't make me careless. I eat very healthy and I exercise daily. As do many other citizens- which doesn't mean their health is compromised from every day normal bacteria. A lot of bacteria's are actually good for your body and necessary for a normal immune system. I don't need someone preaching to me about a hard life of fighting- i've had my own struggles. And I think it's pretty terrible to throw yours in someone else's face because you're trying to make a point. Everybody fights to live daily in their own way. I like to take my problems(including health problems) and find the silver lining... it sounds like you need to do the same. And I never asked for your 'education' on bacteria- I am a college grad- I have plenty of knowledge on how to live, thanks.
Carrie September 25, 2012 at 04:30 PM
So electic citizen, if you are not getting chickens, how does this effect you? What about all the recalls on food purchased in the store? If you maintain your chickens properly, there is less of a chance of you getting sick from the chickens you keep, and know how they are cared for, than the chickens crammed in cages that are not allowed to see the light of day, living in their own filth. Seriously? Wash you hands after tending to them, just like you would when caring for any other animal. This is giving someone a chance to raise chickens and provide healthy organic eggs to their family, along with the learning experience.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Chicks come from breeders at NPIP hatcheries, meaning that the chickens are salmonella free and have been tested. (NPIP means National Poultry Improvement Plan and is a nation wide program.) In the many years I have been a state certified tester, testing flocks, at poultry shows, and for 4-H youth, I have only seen a positive chicken in our training classes. The chickens at the training classes run by the State of MI/MSU, are vaccinated so we can see what a positive result looks like. You are more likely to pass on germs to other people than a chicken.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:10 PM
In Michigan, snakes are our best friends in all yards. Chickens do not attract snakes per my life experiences. I have went out of my way to catch and relocate my common garter snakes to areas around my barns. I wish I had hundreds and hundreds of them. Snakes eat vermin, (flies, mice, and other insects). As a general rule your garage, basement, and home attract mice and flies, which in turn may attract snakes. Your arguments are groundless.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Eclectic Citizen - You keep saying the same thing over and over when all is easily solved by purchasing NPIP chicks/chickens. They are salmonella FREE. Your lack of knowledge is really showing. All hatcheries are NPIP, they have to be. Not only do I raise my own meat and eggs because they taste better, but my father can't have the commercial garbage sold at the store pumped with salt water. Again, everything you are spouting is ridiculous because anyone with a brain knows to get chicks and or adult chickens from a NPIP source. Don't start the highly pathogenic avian influenza` line either, it's not in the USA.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Eclectic Citizen, You carry more germs than NPIP chickens do. You are more of a communicable threat for disease than chickens. I have yet, after 48 years of raising poultry, to catch anything from a chicken, duck, turkey, guinea, quail, ET... and other poultry I have raised. You keep harping on disease...like i said you yourself catch and spread viruses and bacterial illnesses every time you get sick. Never caught a cold, flu, strep, mycoplasma, or other illness from a chicken. Neither has anyone else of the thousands I have met at poultry shows and 4-H shows have either. Oh by the way, poultry at 4-H shows are from NPIP hatcheries and are retested at the shows. Now if you have wild bird feeders you stand a small chance of contracting salmonellae from handling your feeder and tracking their feces into your house from your yard. You need to educate yourself properly.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Wonder how many farm children there are in the USA? How many pregnant chicken owners and breeders? Elderly with farms and or back yard chickens? Don't know any one with full blown HIV. Have you ever heard of the yahoo group housechickens and looked up chicken diapers? Boiler yahoo groups? Pasture farmer yahoo groups? There are millions and millions of chicken/poultry owners and farmers. If disease were a problem in people, we'd hear more about it. Instead we hear about unscrupulous battery farms with serious vermin problems, and that is where your disease comes in. There is a large financial investment in meat and egg facilities; farmers are most concerned with the health of their chickens. The birds are paramount down to testing water for cleanliness and the correct mineral balance, and they are clean and the poultry well care for.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I remember that incident and the state stepped in. Chicks must come from NPIP facilities; if the the hatchery is buying eggs, they must follow the rules and buy from only NPIP breeders. Unscrupulous hatcheries are avoided and you can make sure that the state will stay on them like white on rice. People can get salmonella from snakes, turtles, frogs, and other reptiles too. I avoid buying from the nw MI hatchery.
Cathryn Therese February 09, 2013 at 06:47 PM
$35.00 to keep 3 chickens is ridiculous! Actually, $35.00 to keep any amount of chickens is ridiculous. Have you seen the cute coops and runs at TSC and Family, Farm, and Home? They are light and can be moved around easily. Just make sure you add fencing in an L around the edges so a passing, stray dog or cat can't dig in after jumping your fence. Stray and unleashed dogs are a serious problem and I am sick of cleaning up the feces from the neighbor's dog, it has growled at us, and tries to kill my fixed/vaccinated cats. Wish that the city would seriously address stray/unleashed dogs. Have you noticed how many raccoons there are in Fenton? Coons can carry worms that infect the brains of warm blooded animals and carry many other diseases that are zoonoses. A trash man told my H that sometimes there are so many coons in H H dumpster that they get dumped with the trash. The city could address this issue too. Chickens are the least of the city's concerns.

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