Fenton — after a long wait, the city of Fenton may finally be ready to make their decision on chickens.
At Monday’s work session meeting, the Fenton City Council discussed a new version of the chicken ordinance that will be officially voted on Monday, Aug. 13.
The proposed ordinance would allow for up to three chickens to be kept in backyard chicken coops, and would require an annual permit to keep the animals.
According to Brad Hissong, city building and zoning administrator, those who are found violating the ordinance will have to pay a fine of $125 the first day of violation, $250 the second day, and $500 the third day as well as every day after.
The new ordinance was taken up by the city after the planning commission had voted against the ordinance last month.
Councilman Bradley Jacob said that prohibition of something is the government having the utmost intervention the government can have on a matter. “This is an opportunity for us to get the government out of people’s lives,” he said.
Councilwoman Lockwood was in favor of having a strong ordinance since the matter was new to the city. “I hope this works out well for everyone who wants to have chickens,” she said.
“As far as I am concerned, you can have up to six chickens and it won’t make a difference,” Bland said.
Although he was comfortable with more, Bland proposed initially setting the ordinance to allow for three chickens, and allow the city to see where things go from there.
Not everyone was as ready to open the city up for chickens. Mayor Sue Osborn said, “I’ve had people say to me, ‘Let them move to the townships if they want chickens.”
In response to the mayor’s comment, Councilwoman Cheryl King said, “I’ve said the same thing.
“I am not for opening Pandora’s Box for this,” she said. “I am not going to vote for this if it’s over three chickens,”
Councilman Benjamin Smith said that he was still against the ordinance allowing for chicken ownership in the city.
Fenton resident Malissa Bossardet, who, by raising a handful of chickens with her children, brought this issue to the surface last year. “I am extremely disappointed on the max of three hen chickens. One hen lays one egg a day. three chickens will supply three eggs per day. in my case, I have three children and myself, so this means we will be short one egg per day.
“Three chickens are just not enough to sustain a family of more then four people. the whole idea of backyard chickens is healthy sustainable living. With five hens I am able to feed my entire family and share my delicious eggs with my neighbors.”
Bossardet’s other concern is that the city is looking to enforce this ordinance under code enforcement. “This basically means that hefty fines can be levied on homeowners for non compliance,” she said. “I don’t think the city of Fenton should focus on policing this situation and capitalizing on fines. the keeping of domestic animals falls under zoning and it makes sense that backyard chickens should as well.
“I strongly urge the city of Fenton to increase the maximum of hens to five and place this ordinance under the zoning amendment.”
“I hope this works out well for everyone who wants to have chickens.”Pat LockwoodFenton City counclwoman
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AN AUDIO OF THIS STORY