The Saga of the Chickens

Written in the language of “zoning officer”

On January 15, 2004 I wrote a letter in response to a zoning permit application for the location of a shed which was constructed on the subject property without the appropriate township approvals. This application was denied because it was converted to be used as a chicken coop for the storage of approxitmately 17 chickens. As the property owner did not own the requisite one acre of property for pastoral animals, I was unable to authorize this use. I was originally made aware of this situation by an anonymous complaint from an adjacent property owner.
On March 10, 2004 I issued a notice of violation as the chickens were still present on the above-referenced property, in violation of Township Ordinance § 400-88A(1). The property owner claimed to not have received the letter of denial issued on January 15, 2004. The property owner was informed of his option to appeal this determination to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The chickens were not removed in a timely fashion, therefore a summons was issued for this zoning violation.
On June 28, 2004 Mr. Chickenman appeared in reponse to this summons, and entered a not guilty plea, thereby assuring a trial date at some point in the future.
At some point before the trial date, Mr. Chickenman entered his appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, thereby delaying the trial until a determination was made.
This resident’s appeal was heard, as well as the opinions of almost everyone living in his neighborhood. The residents that did not live directly adjacent to the property owner praised the couple for their involvment in their children’s lives, and how great it was that they had started this project of raising and caring for chickens. They also claimed to enjoy the free fresh eggs hand delivered by said children. The residents who share a property boundary with this family were less than pleased to wake every morning with the crowing rooster; not to mention the smell, sights, and sounds of 17 chickens. My decision that the chickens were non-comliant was upheld. The violator was issued a new notice informing him that the chickens must be removed immediately, and enforcement action would be pending after a ten-day abatement period.
The violator intended to pursue a variance to maintain the chickens on an undersized lot, however financial restraints required the withdrawal of this application on January 12, 2005.
We were free to pursue a trial. On February 7, 2005 a trial was held, and the judge found the defendant guilty, and his children (more on that in a minute*) began crying at the loss of their beloved chickens. He was given 30 days to remove said beaked creatures. Today, March 9, 2005 marked the end of this 30 removal period, and I met with Mr. Chickenman to ensure the removal of the animals from this property. It is done.

*I find it deplorable when citizens drag their children with them into court, as a last attempt to sway the opinion of elected officials. If there is no other way for the children to be supervised, than I am sympathetic, however dragging your children to court should be considered mild abuse. Court sucks. It sucks for the average person who is usually there for a driving ticket, drunk driving, or on drug charges. It sucks for the lawyers who are paid to be there. It sucks all around for everyone. Children have not yet developed the extreme perspective-altering skills needed to survive hours sitting around while the municipal court system works its magic. Children should be banned from the courtroom, unless mitigating circumstances dictate otherwise. Mr. Chickenman brought his children to every public hearing regarding this matter, much to the detriment of their mental health. What they must think, as they lay awake at night, of the awful man with black glasses that made Daddy delete the chickens from their lives.


Author: jayholler

A technology lover living in California with my wife and two children.

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