Hello world!

I bought my home on Hazelhurst in September of 2006, choosing to live in Ferndale largely due to the quality of the community. As an avid organic gardener and compost tea brewer, I’ve thrilled to see my neighbors revive or create backyard gardens these past few years. Their efforts are indicative of a growing movement to eat locally, not only to save money, but to reconnect to our food sources, ensuring the nutritional quality of the produce we consume as well as decreasing the resources needed to get it to our table. Our community increasingly shows an appreciation for a naturally healthy lifestyle coupled with a strong DIY spirit- the perfect combination to embrace an ordinance making backyard urban chicken keeping accessible.

Back in June of 2008 I started looking into our city ordinances concerning the keeping and maintenance of chickens. Through research, I came to the conclusion that while Ferndale doesn’t prohibit ownership, it has effectively denied the opportunity to most of our residents by way of an unreasonable poultry housing distance requirement. I’ve posted the section below:

Sec. 12-116. Keeping, housing fowl.

It shall be unlawful to keep, house or maintain fowl within a distance of 150 feet of any building or part of a building used by any person or persons for habitation other than that of the person (including members of his household) so keeping, housing or maintaining fowl. It shall also be unlawful to maintain pigeons, seagulls or other wild fowl so as to create an unsanitary condition or odor. Violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor and is declared a public nuisance subject to abatement as provided in section 12-112.

(Ord. No. 899, Pt. VII, 10-12-98)

To quote an email response from Jay Singh, Ferndale City Assessor on 9/30/2009:
“From my rough memory I would say the average lot size in Ferndale is 40 feet by 110 feet.” (not yet independently verfied by plat map averages)

If our ordinance disallows the keep, housing, or maintenance of fowl within 150 feet of an occupied residential dwelling, then Ferndale may as well reword the ordinance to expressly ban domestic fowl.

Instead, I’d like to see Ferndale repeal Ordinance 899 and take a more progressive approach, much like Ann Arbor did in 2008 and Ypsilanti did earlier this year. See below:

Ypsilanti Ordinance No. 1100 (adopted 7/21/2009)

Allows:
-keeping of up to 4 hens
-coop/enclosures must be at least 20 feet from any residential structure not owned by the permitee unless written permission is granted from the owner of the affected residential structure.
Disallows:
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard

Reference:
http://city-ypsilanti.org/services/administration_services/building_department/Forms/chickens.pdf

Ann Arbor Ordinance No. 08-19 Chapter 107 Animals (adopted 6/2/2008)
Allows:
-up to 4 hens
-coop/enclosures must be at least 40 feet from any residential structure not owned by the permitee unless written permission is granted from the owner of the affected residential structure.
Disallows:
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard

Reference:
http://www.a2gov.org/government/city_administration/City_Clerk/Documents/Backyard%20Chickens%20Permit%200708.pdf

These are just two examples of local communities enabling their citizens to make a move toward a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Across the country, urban chicken farming is encouraged in cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin, Portland and Seattle. These communities are allowed to enjoy the nutritional benefits fresh, non-commercial eggs confer, the economic advantages of decreasing their bottom line grocery expense, as well the invaluable appreciation of food sources in an increasingly industrialized society. The repeal of the prohibitively restrictive portion of Ord. 899 would demonstrate a great commitment to the green movement and health & welfare of Ferndale citizenry, further distinguishing our city as a destination for innovative and ecologically minded individuals.

Please take a moment to peruse the sites I’ve listed below for more information:

Please read:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/dining/19yard.html
http://www.a2citychickens.com/
http://www.backyardchickens.com/
http://www.madcitychickens.com/faq.html