Maria Tyra, of Clawson, discusses her passion for her chicken during a community town hall discussion on chickens at Clawson City Hall Oct. 10. Tyra’s was one of four households recently cited for owning chickens.

Maria Tyra, of Clawson, discusses her passion for her chicken during a community town hall discussion on chickens at Clawson City Hall Oct. 10. Tyra’s was one of four households recently cited for owning chickens.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Clawson City Council to deliberate on chickens

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 24, 2018

 City Prosecuting Attorney Renis Nushaj moderates a community town hall discussion on chickens at Clawson City Hall Oct. 10.

City Prosecuting Attorney Renis Nushaj moderates a community town hall discussion on chickens at Clawson City Hall Oct. 10.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

 John Kripli, a Clawson resident and owner of six chickens, raises his hand to speak during the community town hall discussion.

John Kripli, a Clawson resident and owner of six chickens, raises his hand to speak during the community town hall discussion.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

CLAWSON — On Oct. 16, the Clawson City Council voted 4-1 to direct city staff to draft an “imaginative” and “far-reaching” ordinance for the purpose of discussion and public presentation concerning the city’s existing barnyard ordinance, specifically regarding chickens.

The issue came to light after the city’s code enforcement office taped violation letters, dated Sept. 5, to the doors of four chicken owners, and the city held an Oct. 10 community town hall meeting, which drew approximately 50 people.

On Sept. 18, the City Council voted unanimously to suspend enforcement of the violations for 90 days, or until Dec. 18, following a spirited discussion of chicken ownership.

“(During the town hall meeting), we got to hear a lot from the citizens of the community, and I’d just like to say I took away how (allowing chickens) can really make us an attractive community, but again, making sure that we would do it in a responsible way,” Clawson Mayor Deborah Wooley said.

Wooley added that she would like to see language that addresses all nontraditional animals at the same time, “so six years from now, we’re not talking about pygmy goats, potbellied pigs and other animals that come into play.”

Councilwoman Susan Moffitt agreed that most of those who attended the town hall meeting displayed support for chicken ownership, as well as an openness to setting up rules and regulations.

“(I just want to) make sure that whatever rules and regulations we put in place are enforceable,” Moffitt said.

The current ordinance was updated in 1973 to only allow chickens from 100 feet to 500 feet from a neighbor’s lot line, but such a distance is nearly nonexistent among present-day residential properties.

Councilman Howie Airriess said the city had four or five different cities’ ordinances that address chickens to draw from, and that he would like to go over them and draft an ordinance “where everybody is going to be happy with it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Matt Ulbrich said his mind had changed several times throughout the course of becoming aware of the presence of chickens in the city, following the violation letters.

“It’s been a learning experience for me,” Ulbrich said. “I’m OK with a licensing process or an annual inspection perhaps, but I struggle greatly with allowing somebody in violation of the ordinance now to continue in that violation.”

Councilwoman Paula Millan cast the single “nay” vote against the motion, citing concerns about the ownership of chickens. She pointed out that not all input from residents regarding chickens was positive.

“You have to consider the neighbors who are around you,” she said. “This goes beyond an emotional issue. Chickens have an odor, and I think everyone knows it, unless they’re maintained very well.”

Millan said she felt those against chicken ownership deserved the same amount of respect and that “jumping into it now is not wise.”

Maria Tyra, a chicken owner, expressed gratitude for the council’s deliberation on the issue during the Oct. 16 meeting.

“I just wanted to thank you all for taking a good, thorough look at the chicken issue and giving us some hope going forward,” Tyra said. “Hope we can all come to some kind of agreement where we’re getting our chickens and you are getting your permits and rules and things in place that work for everybody.”

For more information, call the city of Clawson at (248) 435-4500 or visit www.cityofclawson.com.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.