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)

-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.
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard


Ann Arbor Ordinance No. 08-19 Chapter 107 Animals (adopted 6/2/2008)
-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.
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard


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:


22 thoughts on “Hello world!

  1. I totally support your efforts, and would be happy to assist you in lobbying city council and speaking up on the issue.

    Craig Covey, Oakland County Commissioner, 25th District
    Former Mayor

  2. Yes to chickens! I wrote a letter to city council over a year ago asking about the chicken ordinance and never got a response from them…So glad to see that you are making them take notice! Please keep me posted on your progress and if there is a petition to sign. Thank you!

    1. Missy, I want you to be my niebhgor. That would be so awesome! If any houses come up for sale in the niebhgorhood, I am reserving it for you!

  3. I kept a few chickens before I moved here, and felt bad I had to get rid of them.

    A few problems, though: chickens do seem to create a lot of dust. I’m also a little afraid it might encourage rats and other predators and scavengers.

    1. Hi Kevin: rats and predators were a big fear of mine as well, especially since Ferndale had a problems with rats several years ago. Fortunately, in assessing the codes successfully in place in Ypsi and Ann Arbor, I’ve found that their policy surrounding food containment and waste management has really benefitted everyone as the understanding that it’s the practices surrounding those two items that really make or break the situation. Check out the page where I put the proposed ordinance- it spells out the necessity for keeping food predator proof and keeping waste managed. Let me know what you think!

  4. check out our project at http://ourcalories.blogspot.com !!! hens are a major part of the whole circle of organic gardening in our backyard. they are quiet. they don’t smell. they lay healthy, tastey eggs every single day.

    we have 4 hens. our 3-year old son loves them and helps in caring for them. we get so much awesome chicken shit mixed in the coop straw for the garden beds, that it’s almost mean to brag about it. it would probably be perfect for dressing around fruit trees and roses in the winter.

    i did not heat the coop all winter, but did add 1 flourescent bulb for extended lighting; there were only 2 two-week periods where the hens stopped laying or layed less.

    in the past, i have read about butchering chickens and keeping a flock of meat birds and decided that i would not like doing that and that it was never going to be in the cards. butchering operations will not crop up in abandoned homes in ferndale.

    my coop does not smell. my neighbors are all aware. ferndale’s live and let live environs would not be stressed with a few local hens.

    anyways, i support the ordinance change!

    1. Great blog! I’d love to see your setup someday, it sounds great! Thank you for the support- we need it even more now, as the woman featured in the Patch article was immediately contacted by the city and told that she could no longer keep her hens.

  5. You have my support! I’d love to help organize some public education events. I am on the library board and will do what I can to lobby public officials and promote the benefits of backyard chickens in Ferndale. A few chickens will not bother neighbors with your proposed ordinance in place. Dogs would create more noise and rat problems than chickens under these conditions.

  6. I am so thrilled that you are doing this! I became interested in urban chickens a while ago, and was heart-broken when I learned
    Ferndale did not allow chickens, unless 150 ft from a dwelling. I live on a large double lot in Ferndale and I don’t think even I have enough room to legally have them! My sister in Florida has 6 “urban” chickens and am very jealous. If there is anything I can do to help in this cause, please contact me.
    thank you again for spear heading this.

  7. As Jerri, I also looked at the ordinance a while ago and found the details essentially preventing us from growing egg laying birds.
    I am also willing to help with the cause.
    Would the ordinance be specific to chickens or not? I recently experienced eating duck eggs and was wondering if those may be included in the ordinance (female ducks are also referred to as hens from a brief research I did) One benefit I am aware of with ducks is that they can also serve as guard animals as they are quite territorial…

    1. Hi Ido:
      The language I have in the current proposal is specific to chickens, but could easily be modified to fowl in general. Good suggestion! I’ll definitely bring it up.

  8. I want to see chickens in Ferndale. I could keep them now without a coop. It is my understanding that the coops are where the problem comes in.(zoning ordinance) Why can we have a dog run, but are not supossed to use it for chickens? Why can we have dog houses, but no chicken houses/coops?
    I could own a mynah bird or parrot, parakeet or finch and have them caged in my home, but am I to understand we can’t do the same with a chicken?
    Even Madison Heights has come around to the idea and many lots there are no larger than Ferndale lots. I’m behind this effort.

  9. Hi again. I left a message a few days ago. I support this movement. I didn’t leave my real name because I too am keeping chickens, for nearly 2 years now. I would like to help — without putting my family in a position where the children might loose their egg-laying pets. I will keep watching the website for information. Good luck with your goals.

  10. I plan on going to speak to city council tomorrow in support of the ordinance.
    I am told that Galloway and Lennon are not supporting it at this point, while Piana & Baker are in support. I don’t know where mayor Coulter stands and will Facebook him today to get his side.
    Please let me know if anyone else is planning on going or f you have any recommendations on what to say or who to contact.

  11. I have about a third of a 50 lb. bag of Layenna for anyone who wants it. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I don’t need it because I don’t have any chickens. I just hate to see it go to waste. Just post a reply if you’d like the feed. Thanks.

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