It is highly likely that the city council of Ludington on Monday, October 10th will pass an ordinance that will make it illegal for anybody to raise chickens or other 'farm animals' in the city.  The probability increases dramatically since the ordinance is mostly targeted at those who feed deer and entice them into the city limits; the proposed law would make it illegal for folks in the city limits to feed or otherwise attract deer and other wild animals. 

The ban on chickens and other farm animals appears to be added as an afterthought but is a bit more controversial since many have made it known to city leaders at committee and council meetings that they are in favor of the city allowing chickens, properly regulated, noting that some are already here and they are not presenting a nuisance, unlike many of the neighboring dogs.  After describing a lot of rationale for the deer feeding ban, they avoid any for farm animals simply saying:

From my own personal experience, I have to agree with those advocating for chickens and appropriate regulations.  I grew up on a 40-acre farm out in Victory Township where the only 'farm animals' we had were chickens.  In the 1970s, my parents bought a house in the Scottville city limits to live in, keeping the farm and continuing to grow crops and using it effectively as a summer home.  In the cooler months, we would winterize the farm home and bring the chickens into town for the winter; we had a very spacious barn/shed to keep them in. 

Scottville Mayor Bruce Krieger lived a house down from us and never gave us a problem about it-- because the chickens were never a problem.  They were basically pets that offered a special prize, an occasional egg or two.  I never liked scooping up the poop in their coop, but it was reused as fertilizer for the farm's gardens in the following spring.  

In Ludington, the chicken issue arose in the midst of the pandemic, with several citizens in 2020 appealing to councilors to permit chickens in the city for the usual reasons along with how it would help during that time, mentioning supply-line issues, less trips to the market, higher food independence, less chance of spreading Covid-19, etc.  The council seemed poised to do something, but, as recounted here, they unanimously decided that they would not look further into making raising chickens permissible.

That link also notes that city leaders had a mistaken belief that raising chickens was already banned in the City of Ludington, Mayor Steve Miller would even announce on a WMOM broadcast that the law banning chickens in the city was already on the books.  The city code and charter had no such law and the mayor and other officials could not produce such law when later challenged to do so.  The standing law on chickens in the city limits came from an ordinance passed back in 1947 which effectively banned all farm animals-- like the proposed ordinance-- UNLESS the person obtained a certificate from the health department that confirmed the person complied with all sanitary regulations in place before becoming a custodian of a 'farm animal':

Ordinance 549 of 1947 also provided special guidance for coops used for chickens, geese, and/or ducks in the city and it was passed by all eight councilors.  While modern-day councilors worry about small lot sizes of 60' X 140' being prohibitive to making a chicken ordinance work, these councilors saw those same lot sizes and let people decide what to do on their own property, with proper deference to their neighbors by having both the health department and city hall have their own oversight and regulations to protect their interests.  

As the 75th anniversary of this ordinance looms, it should be noted that the ordinance was never repealed or replaced with an updated version during that interval.  Subsequent ordinances that have affected the section of the city code that deals with animals have never dealt with farm animals or chickens, so there has been no automatic repealing of those parts of the 1947 ordinance due to conflict.  That will happen on Monday if the ordinance is passed.  

And yet over the years, the older law has been forgotten, lost in rewrites of the city code by city bureaucrats at some point, lost as duties for the health department somewhere along the way.  One could say that the 1947 law effectively bans live farm animals already, since the local health department does not offer the same services they offered in the 1940s for certifying a backyard coop or pen as sanitary.  The city hasn't proffered any existing or past problems with chickens or other farm animals that they have had in order to justify this ban.

Regardless, that hidden right to raise chickens in town that some have exercised will be lost Monday following the expected approval of the common-sense deer-feeding ban that includes a clause that bans all farm animals and because our council has shown in 2020 by unanimous consent that they don't even want to discuss the issue of chickens at the committee level.  And the loss of a right that doesn't pose burdensome duties on others is always a shame when there isn't any compelling reason offered by the government agency using their power to take it away.   

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It's incredible in this modern age and the problems the COL faces nowadays, that they are wasting precious time with these subject matters, wasting time and money/energy. There are so many more important things that need immediate attention. But, this city council does stupid things all the time, and here is continuing to do the same. Shameful and disgusting for citizens that love and care about the City.

Maintaining the infrastructure and faithfully providing the usual municipal services in a fiscally responsible manner is about all I expect from my local government.  At times they do need to respond to the public, especially when a large contingent comes before them and says that the City needs to get the deer population under control.  

As we have seen with the biosolid and composting contracts earlier this year, the City isn't above wasting money, time, and resources to benefit out of town concerns.  The deer issue is no different.  The City could have assuaged the masses by passing a simple deer feeding ban ordinance, encouraging the folks to hunt, and actually researching deer cull effectiveness and note that it's a waste of money.  But what do they do?

Without any warning they decide to go one step further and take away a right that citizens had, raising chickens, by strictly banning the practice.  Much larger and much smaller cities have enacted sensible chicken regulations, but first this council decides it doesn't want to discuss such a practice in 2020, leading to this ban.  The council would rather cockily strut their power in front of you, rather than try to protect your rights and those of your neighbor.

Then they took another step, they set aside over $50,000 of ARPA money to do a deer cull for three years.  Like any government program set up to go after a problem that cannot be solved so easily, there will be a lot of pressure by citizens still affected by deer incursions that third year to continue the program, undoubtedly more costly since the USDA will see that we need our fix of cull.  

 The next thing they will have to deal with is the Fox population. You know, Fox's love chicken.

Since the deer feeding ordinance will likely pass, the foxes will have to prey on free-roaming chickens around the county.  More foxes may have a benefit, since they occasionally and opportunistically pick off unattended fawns.

Most cities that adopt chicken regulations make it so that the chicken 'homestead' is protected from foxes and other would-be predators by coops and impenetrable fences.  

Interesting development tonight, this ordinance was sent back to committee by the council, but before they did that, they mechanically separated the chickens out of the ordinance!  Chickens will be looked at by the Buildings & Licenses Committee, while the rest of the deer-feeding ordinance will be reviewed by the Public Safety Committee to better clarify the language.

Additionally, the $58,500 deer cull was approved by the council on a 4-3 vote.  I will add more details in the meeting recap.

XLFD really, $60K??????????? That is a lot of Moolla, isn't it? Where is the FOIA on culling contractors? Or is it the DNR???? Who are they and what qualifications?

The contractor is the US Department of Agriculture, the contract has been included in the last two council packets.  The public was assured that the USDA snipers would be sharpshooters with a lot of experience in the field, but that's not anywhere in the contract.  The contract (see p. 25+) allows the USDA to subcontract with private agencies (without any minimum licensing requirements for those subcontractors).  There is no part of the contract that assures the COL that these shooters will not be newbies nor that they would be USDA bureaucrats out for a weekend 'hunt'.


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