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Lack of support kills Esky chicken ordinance

ESCANABA — An ordinance that would have allowed chickens and ducks to be kept in Escanaba died Thursday night when the issue was taken up by a divided Escanaba City Council.

Thursday night’s council meeting included a first reading of the ordinance to allow chickens in the city followed by setting Dec. 21 as the date for a second reading, public hearing and adoption of the ordinance.

The issue never got that far.

Council Member Karen Moore moved that Dec. 21 be set as a second reading and public hearing. None of the other four city council members seconded her motion. Because there was no second, the ordinance died for lack of support.

Council members were split on the issue. Moore supported it. However, Council Member Tyler Dubord was vocally opposed to having poultry in the city. Council Member Ron Beauchamp shared his views.

Moore said it was important that the city council take into account the action of the Escanaba Planning Commission, which drafted an ordinance in a majority vote and sent the issue to the city council level.

“I think we should give it a chance,” said Moore.

Dubord disagreed, citing a number of issues why chickens and ducks shouldn’t be allowed in the city. They included smell, attracting vermin and enforcement problems.

“What’s next? Is it going to be goats?,” Dubord asked. “I am not in support of this in any way or form.”

Beauchamp said he felt the same way.

“We are not enforcing what (ordinances) we already have,” he said.

When Moore moved a second public hearing date be set, the four other council members were silent.

One member of the public spoke on the issue. Andy Simon of Escanaba said he supported allowing chickens in the city. He said he has had experience with chickens and the experience is enjoyable and rewarding.

Tyler Anthony of the Escanaba Planning Commission spoke to council before their discussion. He outlined the research that was put into the ordinance the planning commission passed on the council. He added that both Marquette and Ishpeming allow chickens and both municipalities were contacted.

The planning commission submitted recommendations to the council that the animals could be controlled through permits, licensing, and enforcement.

Suggestions include;

– A person must get a zoning permit from the Planning and Zoning Department. This covers only the enclosure and ensures the safety and environmental health of the animals. In some cases, this will require the planning commission’s approval, and in all cases, animals must be kept in a safe enclosure.

– The person must get a license from the clerk’s office, which is good for one year. Licenses only ensure that a person may keep the animals, and that they have an enclosure which has indeed been granted a zoning permit. Each license can be renewed on an annual basis. This will be a new procedure.

– The person must not cause any public nuisances or commit any zoning violations due to the animals. This activity would be managed through code enforcement. If a person does cause a nuisance or violate the zoning code, their license cannot be renewed, and the person will not be able to keep the animals anymore.

The draft also sets guidelines for health, safety and sanitation, and for enclosures. Roosters will not be allowed, nor will commercial slaughter or egg sales from home flocks be allowed. Total number of chickens and ducks allowed per enclosure is limited at six each.

In other business, council:

– Approved 2024 city council meeting dates. Since the Fourth of July falls on a meeting date, that meeting was canceled.

– Approved the purchase of a forestry truck for the Public Works Department.

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