ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – Escanaba will not move forward with legalizing chicken keeping within city limits.
Thursday evening, Escanaba’s City Council considered a draft amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow limited chickens and ducks to be kept in the city, with the exceptions of roosters and the invasive Muscovy duck.
Some council members, including Tyler DuBord, had concerns following the reading of the amendment.
“We get enough complaints on feces from dogs and animals that are odors coming across,” DuBord said. “Now we’re adding chicken and duck feces, which is high in nitrogen, which produces an ammonia smell.”
City Planning and Zoning Administrator Tyler Anthony said the amendment contained provisions to prevent issues like odor.
“Waste shall be composted or disposed of properly as required by local waste management authorities,” said Anthony. “Stockpiling more than 14 days of waste materials, accumulation on the property is prohibited.”
Council members also debated the potential for compliance issues.
“We’ve looked at right now how many stray cats we have in the city, how many even stray dogs that I see posted every day that are wandering the city,” DuBord said. “We’re not even enforcing those ordinances. If we add a new ordinance, we are now straining our code enforcement to now watch over chickens and ducks.”
“We can’t make a decision based on a few people that are going to violate,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Karen Moore. “I think it’s important that when we have boards and commissions that we take their advice.”
Moore made a motion to move the amendment to a second reading with a public hearing and the potential for adoption. No other council members supported the motion.
“Unless the Planning Commission decides to take it up again, it’s effectively dead in the water now,” Anthony told WZMQ 19.
While not a win for those hoping to legally own chickens in the city, Anthony says the process did boost public involvement in developing local legislation, according to the chair of the Planning Commission.
“In ten years of being on the commission, there had been no issue that had gotten so much public engagement as this,” Anthony said of the chair’s comments at the last Planning Commission meeting. “He was very happy with that, but this is what it amounted to.”
Click here for more WZMQ 19’s previous report on this issue.