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 As long as an ordinance passed its second reading, the city of Huntington Woods will allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards. Georgia Stoy, 12, advocated for the change for the better part of a year.

As long as an ordinance passed its second reading, the city of Huntington Woods will allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards. Georgia Stoy, 12, advocated for the change for the better part of a year.

File photo provided by Bridget McKinley

Huntington Woods on verge of allowing chickens in backyards

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 7, 2019

HUNTINGTON WOODS — A long-discussed ordinance that would allow Huntington Woods residents to keep chickens in their backyards was on the verge of passage at press time.

At its April 23 meeting, the City Commission held its first reading of an ordinance that would permit residents to keep chickens in their backyards. The first reading passed 4-0.

Under the ordinance, the city would establish a pilot program that would issue up to three permits on a first-come, first-served basis. A household would be allowed to have up to three hens, not roosters or male chickens, and the abutting neighbor to the home is required to approve the keeping of chickens before a permit is issued.

The chicken ordinance came to the commission last year thanks to the efforts of 12-year-old Georgia Stoy, who wanted to have her own pet fowl.

Stoy attended the first reading and thanked the commission for creating the ordinance. She later told the Woodward Talk that she’s very excited about the ordinance’s passage.

“I was kind of nervous, but I thought it might happen,” Stoy said on if she thought the ordinance would pass or not.

Stoy said she hopes to get a chicken as soon as she can. She still hopes to name it Rocky.

“I feel proud of myself, and I’m sure my parents are too,” she said.

There would be two inspections per year on the chicken coop conducted by a third-party pest control expert. The annual permit and inspection fee would cost $180.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Jenks said he likes the ordinance, but he did have an issue with the permit and inspection fee, believing it to be too high. He compared it to the cities of Berkley and Hazel Park, which charge $85 and nothing, respectively.

“I don’t think chickens and raising chickens is an adult activity,” he said. “I think it’s a children’s pet activity, and I would prefer that that annual permit and inspection fee be significantly lowered so it was similar to Berkley. … We have copied a lot of the Berkley ordinance. Some may look at $180 as being punitive.”

City Manager Amy Sullivan said the estimate for the two inspections by a certified pest control professional was $50 per inspection, which was added on to the Berkley fee.

“So that $100 was added to the $80 fee for the building inspector to go out and take a look at it and make sure there is not any kind of issue with rodents,” she said.

Sullivan said the fee would be up for approval at the next meeting, scheduled for May 7, along with the second reading of the ordinance, so the issue could be discussed then too. That meeting occurred after the Woodward Talk went to press.

Mayor Bob Paul said he believes it’s important to use an outside pest control company to conduct any inspections.

“We may find after the first year that that’s an unnecessary fee and we can discontinue that or change it to one (inspection), but in all fairness to the residents of the entire city, I think it’s important that we inspect these and maintain — watch it very closely this first year,” he said.

Commissioner Michelle Elder said she supports the youth in the community who helped bring this ordinance to the table, and she thinks it is good for them to learn about where their food comes from and how to take care of other beings.

At the same time, Elder said they are not Berkley nor Hazel Park, and so they have to strike a balance to make sure they are respectful of their neighbors with this ordinance.

“This ordinance written as is right now and hearing the justifications for the $180, being we’re inspecting it twice versus the other communities who only inspect it once, I think that is reasonable in helping us to strike that balance,” she said. “And keeping in mind that the chicken coop, the backyard that we visited was being taken care of from a resident that knows everything about backyard chickens, and she’s on top of it, and she was very diligent on taking care of the chickens, taking care of the structure, of their food sources. I don’t know that every owner will be like that, so I think the twice a year enforcement will be helpful to the neighbors that have to live next door to these chickens.”