City Commission allows chickens in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After putting a much-debated ordinance allowing chickens to be raised within city limits on hold two weeks ago, the Grand Rapids City Commission finally adopted the measure Tuesday.

“Ah, the weighty affairs of state,” joked Mayor George Heartwell as the commission prepared to debate the measure that will allow chickens to roost in the city during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting.

The two-year pilot program will begin May 1. Residents will have to obtain a one-year permit to have chickens, and there are a number of restrictions they will have to follow.

>>PDF: The rules for raising chickens under the ordinance

Commissioners will have the chance to continue, alter or end the rules in 2017.

The measure passed by a 6-1 margin. Lone dissenter Senita Lenear of the Third Ward said she’s not anti-chicken but has some lingering questions.

Those concerns mirror questions listed in a memo sent to the city attorney by the Kent County Health Department. Among the Health Department’s questions:

  • What are the rules for disposing of chicken waste?
  • What will the city do about smell complaints?\
  • What about salmonella and other bacteria chickens are known to carry on their bodies?
  • Who is responsible for rounding up runaway and neglected chickens?

“I don’t feel like the response from the health department gave us was a ‘stop,'” said Heartwell.

Maybe so, but it also didn’t give a ‘yes.’

Lenear says the gray areas are too hard to ignore.

“We still don’t have an answer and that’s really my struggle. It’s not that I’m opposed to it. I just want to make sure it’s done properly,” she said.


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