Beverly Hills residents push to allow chickens in community

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 10, 2017


BEVERLY HILLS — Several Beverly Hills residents are asking the Village Council to consider changes to village ordinances that would allow people to own chickens on property in the community.

Currently, the village prohibits any animals classified as livestock from being kept on residential property.

However, some residents say that allowing a small number of chickens to be owned on residential property would provide numerous benefits for families and the area as a whole.

“We started talking about it as a group of residents about two years ago,” explained Rachael Hrydzinszko, one of the Beverly Hills residents leading the push. “We got more organized as time went on and put a Facebook group together as a way to connect. We put together a petition letter and started to talk to people about this issue. We wrote it over the summer last year, and then we weren’t sure when to present it to the council. Finally, maybe two months ago we decided it was time to do it, and we started a big push for signatures and to get support from local businesses.”

Those wanting the changes to the village ordinances stated several reasons in favor of allowing residents to keep chickens at their homes at a Village Council meeting May 2. They encouraged the council to put the issue up for discussion at a future meeting and shared their thoughts about why the new policy would benefit the community.

“Food quality is something I began looking into about three years ago. This led me to find a local egg producer in Troy, and I would buy eggs from them at a farmers market every weekend until they closed last year,” said Hrydzinszko. “Pasture-raised or factory farm eggs just don’t compare to home-produced eggs, and I want to have that in my community.”

No date has been added to the council’s schedule yet, but council members promised that it will be added to the agenda of a meeting in the near future.

“Having a small flock of chickens in your backyard is beneficial to anyone who wants to cut down on food waste overall. They eat just about everything,” said Hrydzinszko. “They can eliminate compost and are great for pest control — especially ticks, which are on the rise in Michigan right now. Getting eggs is just a bonus of all this.”

Those pushing for the chickens recognize that some residents have concerns about bringing such animals into the community, but those at the meeting said such concerns are based on false assumptions about the animals or can be addressed by proper care regarding the animals.

“All of the doubts I’ve heard raised so far are things that are either covered in the ordinances or are based on misinformation or a lack of information about chickens,” said Wendy Hipsky, another Beverly Hills resident who spoke at the May 2 meeting. “I would talk to doubters about what their concerns are. People are envisioning these large-scale, loud, noisy, stinky farming operations, and the reality is what we’re envisioning may take up as little as 8 to 10 square feet of property.”

“We’re not proposing people just have chickens running wild around their backyards,” added Hrydzinszko. “Chickens are delicious, and wild animals know that. There are even animals like hawks that can attack them. They have to be kept in a coup and not allowed to go free range in your backyard. These coups have to be checked to make sure they are safe. They roost at night, which is when most predators hunt, so that is a great safety procedure.”

Among the concerns that people have raised are the noise, the smell from animal waste, and attracting predators. Hrydzinszko addressed these concerns.

“One of the biggest misconceptions we’ve come across is people think you need a rooster to get eggs, and you don’t. In this area, you don’t want a rooster, and hens lay eggs regardless of whether there’s a rooster or not. Roosters are the ones who make lots of noise, and we are not asking for roosters in the community. Another big concern is smell. People are used to seeing hundreds of chickens kept together in a small, hard-to-clean space, which yes, does produce a smell; but a few in your backyard would not.”

As for predators, supporters of the measure said it wouldn’t be an issue so long as the fowl are cared for and a proper coup is provided for them.

“Chickens, properly cared for, are locked up every night in the coup with a solid door that has a lock that is something that an animal can’t open. If you care for your animals properly, it will not attract predators. You don’t want to leave a small dog outside at night either for the same reasons.”

Hipsky said there are already rules that would outline the proper care for animals in the village ordinances that refer to the well-being of pets. The ordinances just need to be altered to include chickens.

“There are various ordinances in place regarding controlling animal noise, animal smells, controlling animal feces, and making sure your animals have shelter and are properly cared for,” she said. “Many of the concerns citizens are raising about chickens are already in the code in reference to other animals or dogs, in particular.”

Those in support of the code changes will have to defend their views and convince council members of their points in the future if they wish to see these changes made.

“I grew up on a farm, and I know what it takes to raise them and I know that most of the things people are nervous about, they don’t need to be. There’s a big push for locally sourced food and to use organic ingredients. It’s the way of the future. I believe there was a United Nations report that recently said small home organic gardens and farms will be what’s necessary to feed the world.”