City leaders discuss backyard chickens in Grand Rapids

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jan 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-13 23:25:02-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Chickens were a hot topic at Tuesday night's city commission meeting in Grand Rapids.

A proposed ordinance would lay down a specific set of rules for residents who want to keep chickens within city limits:

  • If you want to have chicken, you can’t have any roosters and you must have at least a 5,000 square foot lot.
  • Direct neighbors who share the property line would have the ability to deny or approve their neighbor from having chickens.
  • The birds must stay at least 10 feet from the property line, and must be kept in the backyard.
  • Chickens will not be allowed to be killed on the property.
  • The proposed ordinance wouldn’t limit the amount of chickens a home owner could have in the city.

If approved, the ordinance would go into effect on May 1 of this year. It would expire in two years, and would require a renewal by the city.

Some residents spoke out about having chickens in their backyard within city limits. Several people said that chickens are a great way to provide fresh eggs while others said that the noise and mess has no place in the city.

"I was born and raised on a farm, and it is my feeling that if you want to have chickens, then you need to live on a farm," said Grand Rapids resident Juanita Williams. "Meijer and everyone else carries eggs that are plenty enough fresh that we don't need to have chickens next door."

Another resident expressed support for keeping poultry in the city: "I'm a father of a two-year-old, and I want to be able to teach my son to be sustainable and give back to his community, and people will be giving their neighbors excess eggs."

As of now, no decision has been made.