Back-yard chicken proposal not a dead issue yet 2014.12.10

By DAVID GREEN

The back-yard chicken issue is dead in Fayette, and although it hasn't fared well in Morenci, the topic isn't yet dead.

Morenci planning commission members made attempts to contact other communities where chickens are allowed. A few responses were received, but commissioner Sean Seger came through with the most complete report from the Traverse City zoning office.

Initially there were many concerns, Seger was told, but once the ordinance was passed, few problems have arisen. Four complaints were received during the past three years which resulted in moving a coop farther away from a neighbor's house and chasing some loose chickens. Seger was told there have been no issues with noise or odor.

It's been so successful, Seger learned, that another ordinance was passed to allow bee-keeping in the city.

Chicken coops have become a local attraction with the Coop Loop bicycle tour organized to look at the various designs.

Traverse City forbids outdoor slaughter of chickens and a covered fence is optional.

Seger was told that the ordinance in Suttons Bay initially allowed roosters, but that was later rescinded.

Commissioner Lowell Oberhaus was told that the city of Ferndale has 19 registered chicken owners and there have been no problems during the four years that chickens have been allowed. In Grand Rapids, chickens must be at least 100 feet from a residence.

Mayor Bill Foster said he would like to hear the reports from two commission members who weren't in attendance at last Thursday's meeting. If you read Morenci's proposed ordinance, he said, you would see that most of the complaints heard are already addressed in the proposal.

Tecumseh recently voted against back-yard chickens, Sessions noted.

Oberhaus said the commission has heard a lot of criticism about the chicken proposal and he would like to hear more support for the plan.

"People don't think much about something unless they want it," said commissioner Chip Connin, "even if they aren't opposed."

The topic was tabled until the January meeting.

NEW MEMBER—Another planning commission member is needed to fill a vacancy. The unexpired term would continue through February 2015 when the mayor would appoint someone to a full term. One members of the commission could be non-resident if he or she owns property in the city.

HEARINGS—No one from the public spoke at hearings about the establishment of a wind turbine ordinance and moving the sign ordinance to the zoning book.

ORDINANCES—City administrator/clerk Michael Sessions said he would like to meet with a committee to review some ordinances that date back to the 1980s.

Sessions said he will discuss issues he's encountered when enforcing ordinances. Clarifying wording will help him in his job, but it will also give commissioners the opportunity to make sure laws are administered in the way that the commission wants.