Wayland council still only discussing chicken ordinance

They’re still talking about chickens at Wayland City Council meetings, but that’s all for now.

Though a “draft chicken ordinance” item appeared on Monday night’s agenda, city officials insisted it only be a discussion item because the proposed ordinance to allow the creatures for urban farming is still being crafted. And the interim city manager, Larry Nielsen, is the man working on it, though he just started in his position Monday.

Councilman Rick Mathis said most people he’s discussed the idea with are supportive, but there still are questions, such as how will regulations be enforced, who will do the enforcing and what are the proper channels for registering complaints?

“I would hate to see this ordinance proposal passed without an ordinance enforcement officer in place.” Mathis said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Antel said it’s her understanding that most regulations should follow the guidelines provided by the Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS). She said, for example, it’s important to have chickens in a fenced in area rather than just relegate them to coops.

Mathis then asked what type of fence in an effort to drive home the points that much still has to be done on the regulations.

“You have to have it all well thought out,” said Nielsen, “especially before you grant permits.”

He said some communities in West Michigan have decided to prohibit all farm animals in residential areas, asking, “Where do you draw the line — goats, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits…?”

He also asked about regulations for selling eggs, noting city officials would not welcome a lot of signs advertising them on the side of road.

“It does become somewhat of a maintenance issue,” agreed Councilwoman Lisa Banas, who also said she would be adamantly opposed to permitting anyone within the city limits to slaughter chickens once they are no longer capable to laying eggs.

And there arises the issue about how a prohibition against selling eggs would be enforced, especially because there is a Farmers Market that sets up shop downtown every Tuesday and Saturday.

“The enforcement issue just keeps growing and growing,” observed Nielsen.

However, he pledged, “I will keep working on this and then I’ll let you know.”


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