After much discussion, our steering committee has decided not to launch another attempt to legalize backyard chicken-keeping in Tecumseh through the petition process at this time. However, we intend to try again to legalize these useful, easy-to-care-for animals at some future point, maybe when the current members of city council who were opposed to our efforts are (finally) replaced by more open-minded individuals. We look forward to that time. In the meanwhile, we will continue to strongly support those residents who declined to part with their feathery pets despite the outcome of November's vote.
WHAT: Public Meeting for Chicken Supporters
WHEN: Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 7pm
WHERE: Tecumseh Brewing Company, 128 W. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh, Michigan
BREAKING NEWS: Tecumseh Backyard Chickens is hosting a public meeting/discussion/roundtable about creating a workable backyard chicken ordinance for Tecumseh. Despite the outcome of last November's vote, there are still plenty of "stealth" chicken owners in the city and we are still interested in decriminalizing this harmless hobby. Your input is needed! This movement can only proceed with the help of dedicated volunteers. Come out to show your support and share your ideas.
Please note that this meeting is for backyard chicken advocates and their allies, for the purpose of constructive discussion. This discussion is NOT intended to be about the pros and cons of chickens, rather how to move our legalization effort forward.
"Officials in Michigan have lifted a statewide ban on poultry exhibitions that was put in place earlier this year as a precaution to a bird flu outbreak across the Midwest.
"The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the decision to remove the ban Wednesday comes after the disease risk and status of the outbreak were evaluated.
"Poultry and waterfowl shows were banned at fairs and elsewhere to fight the spread of bird flu. It was aimed at preventing the co-mingling of birds from different locations. It could be reinstated if the disease re-emerges.
"North Dakota and Ohio lifted similar bans earlier this month. U.S. poultry producers have lost more than 48 million birds in 15 states this year to bird flu."
"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart." -R. G. Ingersoll
Given the outcome of the Nov. 3 vote, supporters of backyard chickens in Tecumseh are disappointed but not discouraged. It's not uncommon for an initiative like this to fail on the first attempt, then succeed later on. For example, it took Grand Rapids, Mich. five years to pass its backyard chicken ordinance, which it finally did in 2015.
When we try again to legalize backyard chickens in Tecumseh - and we will - residents will be much more familiar with this issue. Based on valuable feedback we received from "no" voters, next time we'll be able to craft an ordinance that is more acceptable to a wider range of residents. This will lead to success in the longer term. Agents of change must always take the long view.
On that note, did you know that the last time an ordinance was proposed by the petition process in Tecumseh was in 1954? We made history just by getting on the ballot. This is a success.
Furthermore, we reached hundreds of people with our message about the benefits of backyard chickens, many of whom had never before considered these useful pets. This is a success.
We brought together a large group of people with diverse viewpoints to work together for a common goal. This is a success.
We also helped to vote out of office a staunchly anti-chicken city council member, and vote in a more openminded member with a background in sustainable agriculture. This may be our most significant success to date - but it will not be our last.
Thank you to each and every one of our supporters - those local residents who voted yes, and those out-of-town supporters who encouraged us along the way.
CHICKENS IN THE NEWS: Twenty-three percent of Tecumseh registered voters headed to the ballot box Tuesday, voting down a proposed backyard chicken ordinance 826 to 625.
Read more here: http://www.tecumsehherald.com/content/voters-reject-backyard-chickens
To the Editor,
Opponents of Tecumseh’s backyard chickens ordinance have recently raised the specters of avian flu and salmonella. However, neither of these should be a concern to informed voters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the spread of the avian influenza virus to humans is extremely rare. In fact, there have been zero reported cases of the current strain, H5N2, in humans in the U.S.
Avian flu is caused by a virus that infects wild birds such as geese, ducks, and swans, which can occasionally be transmitted to domestic poultry. It presents a particular threat to chickens in a factory-farm setting, where they live in crowded, unsanitary conditions, pumped full of antibiotics just to keep them alive. Any disease spreads rapidly in these conditions.
Backyard flocks, on the other hand, are isolated from other birds that might expose them to disease and are healthier overall. Simple biosecurity practices on the part of chicken owners will prevent disease from spreading between backyard flocks, like washing your hands and changing your shoes if you’ve visited someone else who also has chickens.
Similarly, washing your hands with ordinary soap and water is a simple, common sense preventative for the risks of salmonella, a type of bacteria that can be present in chicken feces. People become infected with it when they put their hands or other things that have been in contact with feces in or around their mouth. Salmonella infections are rarely fatal and are treated with common antibiotics.
Furthermore, salmonella can also be spread by dogs and cats. Dogs are often carriers of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms as well, and cats can transmit toxoplasmosis. Yet people live alongside these pets despite undue worry about health risks. Teaching your kids not to kiss their animals, and to wash their hands after caring for them, is a sensible solution.
In short, potential health concerns about backyard chickens have been vastly overblown by opponents, and in fact represent the use of scare tactics in an attempt to influence the upcoming vote.
I encourage Tecumseh residents to vote yes for backyard chickens on November 3.
To the Editor,
I hope you find this letter before November 3. I want to thank you again for all the support we have received over the past year on backyard chickens. I am always one to brag about my city and even more so as I went around town getting to know each of you.
Thank you for all the encouraging words. Now I have one last favor to ask of you Tecumseh. Now is the time to show up to the polls, it isn’t enough to have well meaning intentions. Now is the time for your voice to be heard. Now is the time to let the council know that we do have the votes and support of this community. Without you we will surely fail.
City council should never have put this burden on you as a voter. They decided to take the cowards way out. To vote “present” instead of standing up for what is right. City council is there to not only hear the majority but to protect the minority. To make decisions based on liberty and freedom, not their personal preferences.
There have been legitimate concerns that have been raised by some of those in the community about backyard chickens. All have been met with sound research and practical examples of success not only in our local area, but across the country.
Again, I do know that we have had your support for many months. Yet it will not be successful without you going to the polls and voting. Don’t leave it up to your neighbor and I will see you on November 3.
To the Editor,
I’m a resident who supports the backyard chicken proposal, but I’m not interested in having chickens. I am interested in buying eggs from backyard chicken owners, as I’ve done for several years. Tecumseh residents should have an opportunity to raise chickens and enjoy fresh eggs.
Tecumseh has a chance to pass this proposal and become like other progressive communities who have backyard chickens. Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Toledo and Chelsea all have ordinances allowing backyard chickens.
I encourage residents to vote yes on the backyard chicken proposal on November 3. I applaud the organizers for going through all the channels to get this proposal on the ballot. The proposal is well written and offers an environmentally safe and responsible path to backyard chicken ownership. It’s a wonderful civics lesson for our community.
To the Editor,
I’m on the city council of a city that has an anti-chicken ordinance on the books. I’ve been following Tecumseh’s backyard chicken debate on the internet.
My daughter started pestering me about backyard chickens a while back and my first answer to her was no! There is an ordinance against it! But my daughter is on the relentless side and after about three months of saying no, I got to thinking that my job on the council is to listen to the taxpayers before jumping to decisions.
After this revelation, I took it to the mayor and the rest of the council and you will never guess what their answers were: “No way, there are ordinances to keep that from happening!” It would take a vote of the majority of council to pursue having a chicken ordinance, but the answer at that point was no. Even so, I figured I would do a little research so I could tell my daughter all the reasons why we should not have chickens within the city limits. So I started researching it on the internet and made a few calls. I found out there are a lot of communities that have passed chicken ordinances. It turns out that once chickens were implemented and “under tight control” — like no roosters being allowed — it seems like these cities were pleased with the outcome.
My first call was to the Michigan Municipal League (MML), the organization that helped launch Tecumseh Brewing Company using crowd funding. The MML is in existence to support all the municipalities throughout the state and is full of knowledge on topics ranging from crowd funding to open meetings laws. During a phone call to them, I found out they support backyard chickens. It’s referred to as urban farming or urban homesteading and is an up-and-coming thing around Michigan and throughout the entire country. The MML is 100 percent behind it. Check out their website for yourself; even though I tried hard, I could not find anything against chickens, just ways to implement an ordinance and some of the do’s and don’ts.
To further my attempt to find a reason to say no to chickens, I dug into some of the cities that have gone through this same issue. Ferndale, Mich. was one of them. In speaking with their city manager, I learned that there was a battle to get the ordinance implemented in 2012, but since that time there has been not one problem whatsoever and now the city is good with it.
I also talked to the zoning administrator of Traverse City, Mich., which has allowed chickens since 2009. As soon as I said, “I understand you have chickens up there,” his reply was, “You bet we do and we love them.” I asked him if having chickens as neighbors had a bad effect on property values. His reply was that it is just the opposite. He explained that young people seem to be the ones pushing the urban chickens, and this in turn is helping to push the housing market and is drawing people to the city. Of course, there are many other things Traverse City does to attract new residents, but this shows that the city government is progressive and is willing to take a chance and listen to new ideas.
By now I was convinced that this was something to present to our city council again. It turns out that our mayor also did some research into chickens and was finding out the same things I was.
Eventually, a vote was taken after much discussion and it passed 3 to 2 to allow our residents to keep a limited number of chickens (females only) under strict ordinance control. It wasn’t a slam-dunk, though; some people changed their minds based on the research and some didn’t.
To make a long story short, I changed my tune about backyard chickens after doing some research. I have been on both sides of the fence on this issue, but honestly I have not heard one problem from the many city officials and others that I checked with. Please don’t take my word for it, though; Google “urban chickens” and check for yourself or contact the MSU Extension office or the MML. You will find that backyard chickens have many benefits and very few drawbacks, and hundreds of cities all over the country have legalized them without any problems at all.
Please note: This letter is in no way an attempt to sway voters from one candidate to the other, it is just an attempt to show the process that was gone through in my situation.
I encourage Tecumseh residents to say yes to chickens on November 3.
Harbor Beach, Mich.
To the Editor,
Some Tecumseh residents believe that legalizing backyard chickens will lead to bad things happening in the city, such as chickens attracting vermin and increasing the number of animal complaints.
These fears are largely unfounded. If residents have a dog or cat that gets fed outdoors, a feeder for wild songbirds, a garden or even a compost bin, they already run the risk of urban scavengers being attracted to the yard. Furthermore, any argument that can be made against pet poultry can also be made against pet dogs and cats. Dogs and cats surely cause problems and complaints, yet laws are in place to regulate these pets, ensure they’re cared for properly, and provide legal recourse against irresponsible owners. A well-thought-out chicken ordinance will do the same; it will protect the interests of all residents while also assuring the rights of chicken owners.
The proposed chicken ordinance will regulate the number and sex of pet chickens (no more than six hens; no roosters allowed); their living conditions, including minimum square footage of their coop; the distance of coop and pen from lot lines, and more. Also, let’s not forget that all existing noise and nuisance ordinances will also apply to pet poultry.
It’s an open secret that there are already urban chickens in Tecumseh, living undercover in garages, sheds, and coops — yet there have been no widespread problems or reported complaints. In fact, most neighbors don’t even realize the birds are there.
The proposed backyard chickens ordinance will help ensure that chicken owners are responsible pet owners. I encourage residents to vote yes on November 3.