Before her family, friends and supporters, 12-year-old Georgia Stoy gives a presentation to the Huntington Woods City Commission as to why it should allow backyard chickens as pets.

Before her family, friends and supporters, 12-year-old Georgia Stoy gives a presentation to the Huntington Woods City Commission as to why it should allow backyard chickens as pets.

Photo by Mike Koury

Youth hopes Huntington Woods will allow backyard chickens

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 31, 2018


HUNTINGTON WOODS — Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, a 12-year-old girl gave a presentation to the Huntington Woods City Commission to convince it to allow backyard chickens.

Georgia Stoy stood before the commission Oct. 23 and gave a PowerPoint presentation about keeping chickens as pets, making points such as that chickens only make noise if they’re being attacked or in danger, and when they’re laying an egg, which doesn’t last long.

Stoy said she was proposing that the city only allow hens as pets and not roosters, which are known to crow in the earlier morning hours. She also laid out benefits of chickens as pets, including that they produce eggs and that they eat pests and bugs.

Stoy then challenged the commissioners, if they were not convinced by her presentation, to visit a backyard chicken coop to get a firsthand experience.

“I was very nervous and I was getting a lot of butterflies, but I thought I was going to do kind of good,” she said after her presentation. “I kind of slurred my words a little because I was nervous, so I don’t know if that made an effect.”

The young Huntington Woods resident was accompanied by her friends, other backyard chicken owners from nearby cities whose help she sought to make her presentation, and her family.

“She did so good. I’m so proud of her,” Stoy’s mother, Bridget McKinley, said. “She was really composed. She’s been practicing it all weekend, so that was nice to see it come to life in front of everyone.”

The chicken owners included Courtney Wooten, of Berkley, who led the charge to allow backyard chickens in her city, as well as Ferndale resident Laura Mikulski and Hazel Park City Councilwoman Alissa Sullivan, who brought one of her own chickens, named Ren, with her to the meeting.

Sullivan noted that chickens have been legal pets in Hazel Park since 1943, and the city has never received one complaint about coops or chickens.

All three women took on questions from commissioners, who asked everything from if backyard chickens affect housing values to if they cause rat problems to if there is a risk to catch salmonella or other diseases from live chickens.

Stoy said she was thankful that Wooten, Mikulski and Sullivan were there to answer those questions from the commission.

“I think their questions were a bit confusing, so it was good that the other people that knew more about chickens than I did answered the questions,” she said.

Commissioner Jules Olsman said that he felt like some of his questions were answered and that people made some good points, including how there seem to be no complaints from the cities that do have chickens. He said the meeting also raised some other questions, but he was glad overall in the aftermath of the discussion and that it was a good learning experience.

“After listening to (Mikulski), who seemed most knowledgeable in terms of data, I would want to know a significant amount more about the salmonella risk,” he said. “I mean, I would think people that have children or friends of their children visiting would be concerned about (it). Like I said, there are many questions that need to be answered and the nature of my business is I rely on, I do a lot with, medical literature. I would want to see some scientific studies.”

Olsman said the discussion was a “reasonable first step” but that it requires more studying. 

“I wouldn’t say I was against it. I wouldn’t say I was for it. I would say I was for more information,” he said.

Olsman said he was impressed with the presentation given by Stoy.

“I thought her presentation was heartfelt, and I think her presentation was very informative,” he said. “But like I said, I’m more interested at this juncture in what the Centers for Disease Control has to say, and entities like Michigan State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine have to say, about the desirability of it. That interests me a lot more.”

During the meeting, the city  commissioners did take down the information of the other chicken owners in hopes to gather more facts and to schedule their own chicken coop field trips.

Stoy said she was happy to have Wooten, Mikulski and Sullivan helping her along the way to hopefully get the ordinance changed. 

As for if she thinks the presentation helped her get one step closer to having her own backyard chickens, she joked, “I think since I’m younger, that might make an effect on their decision.”