Clawson approves first reading of new chicken ordinance

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 22, 2019

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CLAWSON — On Oct. 15, the Clawson City Council voted 3-1 to introduce an ordinance to regulate domestic chicken ownership.

The ordinance limits the number of chickens per household to not more than four hens for personal use only — not for any business or commercial use. However, the city will grant those already in possession of up to six chickens a waiver to keep their chickens for 10 years.

Those already in possession of more than six chickens may petition the Building Department for a waiver to keep all of their chickens.

Residents who wish to own chickens will have to submit an application to the Building Department and pay a fee to be determined by the City Council. The three-year permits expire on Dec. 31 of the respective year, and permit holders must apply for a new permit prior to the expiration of the previous permit.

Approved permit holders must schedule an inspection within 30 days of receiving their permit. They will have another 30 days to remedy any noncomplying elements, after which the city may revoke the permit or seek prosecution under the city’s code of ordinances. Failure to schedule an inspection will result in revocation of the permit.

The ordinance prohibits roosters, male chickens and any other type of fowl or poultry, as well as the slaughtering of chickens on the property. It also specifies how and where chickens may be kept.

Interim City Attorney Renis Nushaj worked with Building Department Director Jim Albus and City Manager Erin Irwin to craft an entirely new ordinance from the previous version submitted to the council.

“We took into consideration both the history of the conversations that have taken place, obviously, in front of this council and by this council specifically, and we also took the wisdom of some of our surrounding communities, which have ordinances of this nature — Hazel Park and Ferndale in particular,” Nushaj said. “I, myself, am pleased with it.”

The old ordinance on the books excluded a lot of chicken owners, he said, and so he attempted to be as accommodating as possible with the new draft.

Violations of the ordinance would be punishable by a civil infraction, rather than a misdemeanor, as proposed in the former draft. The city’s current animal ordinance enforces violations through a series of escalating civil infractions.

“I think the first fee we have in there is $100 for the rest of the animal nuisances, and it continues from there, but no criminal conviction of any sort,” Nushaj said.

If an individual unsuccessfully attempts to obtain a waiver, he said, the person can go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for an exception or, if that does not work, the next step would be to go before the City Council.

Maria Tyra, a Clawson resident and former chicken owner, has attended nearly all of the city meetings in which chickens were addressed. Tyra addressed the council Oct. 15 to express her support for the latest draft.

“It’s exactly what we wanted to see. You did an excellent job. We’re real happy with it; not that our opinion matters, but that means I don’t have to come to another council meeting and talk about chickens,” Tyra said.

Joy Welleman, a resident and current chicken owner, also addressed the council.

“I was a little upset when I read the current proposed ordinance, because of the grandfathering shall not exceed six, because everybody knows I have more, but as long as I’m able to get a waiver and keep my girls, I’m fine, so thank you very much,” Welleman said.

Councilwoman Paula Millan cast the “nay” vote, despite making the motion to approve the first reading of the domestic chicken ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Matt Ulbrich was absent from the Oct. 15 meeting.

The ordinance solely addresses chickens. All other domestic animal regulations remain the same. It will go into effect 14 days after the date of publication if the Clawson City Council approves the second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting, set for Nov. 5.

To read the final draft of the ordinance introduced by the City Council, visit www.cityofclawson.com. The city asks anyone with input on the ordinance to email info@cityofclawson.com.

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