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 Jeff Gaglio’s three pet chickens, Marsala, Chicken McChickenface and Larry, come to him at his Clawson home Sept. 20, 2018. The city is still working on its domestic animal ordinance.

Jeff Gaglio’s three pet chickens, Marsala, Chicken McChickenface and Larry, come to him at his Clawson home Sept. 20, 2018. The city is still working on its domestic animal ordinance.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


Clawson domestic animal ordinance going back to the drawing board

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 24, 2019

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CLAWSON — Last year, Clawson code enforcement taped code violation letters dated Sept. 5, 2018, to the doors of four chicken owners.

More than a year later, the city is still stumbling over how to draft a domestic animal ordinance.

At its most recent meeting Sept. 17, the Clawson City Council unanimously voted to send the domestic animal ordinance back to City Attorney John Kingsepp and department heads for more revisions.

The draft of the ordinance that appeared on the Sept. 17 agenda was revised from a draft that appeared on the Sept. 3 agenda for a first reading.

Jim Albus, Clawson’s director of building and planning, outlined six recommendations to the City Council that he proposed but that had not been added to the latest draft of the ordinance.

Albus’ recommendations included allowing for free-range chickens with a measure of control, changing where the chicken coop is allowed to be located, changing the maximum number of dogs from four to three, a clarification of the term “fowl,” and fixing a number of spelling errors.

“The definition of ‘fowl’ includes geese, duck, pheasant, quail and multiple animals. That’s why I requested ‘egg-laying hens,’” Albus said. “I think it was fast-tracked a little bit, and I think you need to look at it and have John and I come to a conclusion before you vote on it.”

City Prosecuting Attorney Renis Nushaj agreed with Albus’s recommendations. He also brought up an issue with the punishment aspect of the ordinance.

“At one point, we talk about a civil infraction that sounds like it would be paid to the city, and then an appeal process that is organized also within the entities of the city, within one of our various boards,” Nushaj said.

On the other hand, he said, a tiered process outlined in the ordinance that begins with a civil infraction for the first violation, a civil infraction with a higher fine for the second instance, and a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine for the third instance “creates confusion … on account of the fact that any attorney dealing with an infraction would presume … to start the process under the punishment phase in the district court, yet somehow the appeal phase would be here in the city, which would be an impossibility statutorily.”

Clawson Public Schools Board of Education member Michael Frink said that as a longtime resident of the city, he was “embarrassed” looking at the latest draft of the domestic animal ordinance.

“Not only did it fail to incorporate your comments, it was also grammatically incorrect, and it’s still very unclear based on the way it’s written,” Frink said. “If I have a group of female peacocks who lay eggs, I could have them based on this ordinance and the way it’s written.”

Clawson resident Maria Tyra, a proponent of owning chickens who no longer owns any, said she also had an issue that “all of a sudden, cats are being licensed.”

“Dragging cats into this situation is just going to make people hate the chicken people more, and we’re just trying to get a fair ordinance,” Tyra said.

She added that she felt potential jail time for the third violation “seems a little ridiculous.”

“If I forget to sweep up the bird food from my bird feeder for a third time, you’re going to put me in jail for 90 days?” she said. “I’m just saying, 90 days is a little draconian for an ordinance like this.”

Mayor Deborah Wooley and Kingsepp were absent from the Sept. 17 City Council meeting.

For more information, visit www.cityofclawson.com or call Clawson City Hall at (248) 435-4500.

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