Supporters Rally Around Hobby Farm Owners At Township Meeting

Posted at 11:05 PM, Aug 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-07 23:05:44-04

MATTAWAN, Mich. – How many animals are too many for a hobby farm in Van Buren County? It’s an issue grabbing a lot of attention after the story first aired on FOX 17 in late July.

The Hunter family thought they were in compliance until they got a letter on behalf of the Antwerp Township saying otherwise.

On Wednesday, Aug. 7th those is support of the family farm voiced their opinion during the public comment section of a township planning commission meeting.

The Hunters said they were blindsided when they received a violation letter in July on behalf of the township telling them they had 90 days to get rid of some of the animals on their farm.

The family said it was a surprise because in May, they got a similar letter saying the number of animals on the farm was within the ordinance.

Before the planning commission meeting even started on Wednesday night, it was made clear to the more than 50 people that came in support of the Hunter family that the planning commission can only offer advice to the township board and no decisions would be made.

Supporters of the Hunter’s farm voiced their concerns over an ordinance that is hard to understand.

“It mentions the number of animals allowed, when it should say the number of animal units allowed,” said Debbi Heiser, a supporter of the Hunter family farm.

In other words a horse and chicken should not be given the same consideration in the ordinance.  The Hunter family contends that during their inspection by the company LSL, a third party hired by the township to enforce ordinances, the inspector misinterpreted the ordinance and they were handed a letter notifying of them of the violation.

“We would like the respect and retraction to the letter until the ordinance gets fixed,” said Kelly Hunter Van Kleys, the owner of the farm in question.  “To have us do something based on a flawed ordinance does not seem to be in the best interest of the community.”

After the meeting FOX 17 asked Paul LeBlanc, the representative from LSL, what happened in between the first letter and the second letter?  We were told the company has no comment.

The Hunters maintain the number of animals has not changed and they have been very forthcoming with the township, now they are worried about November 20th, which would mark 90 days after receiving the letter of violation and hoping the full township board will be receptive to their concerns when they meet on Tuesday August 13th.