Some Holt residents want chickens allowed in more areas

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By Max Gun
Holt Journal staff writer

The Delhi Township Board is reviewing its chicken ordinance because residents want to raise chickens in more areas. As the ordinance stands, chickens are allowed to be raised in 60 percent of the township—in rural areas, but not the remaining 40 percent—in urban areas.

John Hayhoe, Delhi Township Board member, said the township is revisiting this issue that was originally brought up in 2011.

“About two years ago, a few people sent a letter to the township requesting that chickens be raised in the backyard of residents who live in the urban areas of the township,” he said. “The commission at that time felt that since chickens sometimes carry diseases, as well as often agitating neighboring dogs, causing them to bark and create a lot of noise, that the issue should remain as so. However, now that we are getting more letters, we are looking into the chicken ordinance issue again.”

Hayhoe also said that residents want to raise chickens to recall their rural roots, as well as teach their children to grow organic food.

Joy Gietzel, Holt resident for nine and a half years, said she believes that chickens should be able to be raised throughout the township. Her neighbor is trying to raise chickens in her urban backyard and wants the ordinance modified.

“Even though I don’t own any chickens, I would have no problem if my neighbors owned any, and they should be able to,” she said. Okemos and Lansing let you have chickens throughout the entire city, so why is Holt any different? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

Gietzel also said that if residents can own large dogs, owning chickens should be a no-brainer.

“People can legally own big dogs in my neighborhood as long as they are contained,” she said. “But they can’t have chickens. My dogs make a lot more noise and a lot more poop than a few little chickens.”

Ken O’Hara, Holt resident for 36 years, is glad that 40 percent of the township does not allow the raising of chickens.

“I don’t feel that revisiting the chicken ordinance is not something that the township has to do at this time,” he said. “If people want organic grown food they can go to the local market or go to the farmers market in the rural area in the city. I understand that some people may want to teach their kids to grow organic food and raise chickens, but it’s a trade-off with where you decide to live in the urban area of the city.”

O’Hara also said that people who are indifferent about the ordinance right now, will start to care once they realize how many problems chickens cause.

“People will be upset when they consistently smell the odor of chickens, and when their droppings attract rats and mice,” he said. “Chickens also have the tendency to upset dogs and make them bark more, which could develop noise complaints throughout the township. I would suggest that if people want to raise chickens badly enough, they should buy property in the rural areas of the township where chickens are allowed.”

Hayhoe said the township has a difficult time determining where the stopping point is.

“If we allow chickens, people are going to want rabbits, pigs and other small animals also,” he said. “Where do you stop? It’s something we will look into.”

Hayhoe also said the Township Board is taking a wait-and-see approach with this ordinance, to see how big the issue is.

“The more people that come and express their opinion at our board meetings, the more seriously we will look into this,” he said.

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