Letters to the Editor Feb. 3

(In response to ‘Council eyes new chicken ordinance’ The Citizen, Jan. 27, page 4)
Divided board
Dear Editor,
I find it confusing that the township is so against chickens, yet the library offers a class on raising them. I am also confused as to how this village board continues to pursue an issue clearly supported by so many village residents. I find it hard to believe that there is such strong support for their position, have you seen a “ban the chickens” sign? We clearly have a divided board with the majority pushing an agenda not supported by the other board members or many village residents.
Michelle Thompson

(In response to ‘Council eyes new chicken ordinance’ The Citizen, Jan. 27, page 4)
Deeply Disappointed
Dear Editor,
I am deeply disappointed at the recent actions of our Village Council when they moved to adopt the ordinance related to keeping chickens. As a resident of over 25 years, a past Council member, and a current Planning Commissioner, I have never before seen a Council that has so little regard for its citizens or the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission formed a committee to research the issue of keeping chickens and provide a recommendation to the Village Council at Council’s request. The committee members (Melanie Nivelt, Rick McAvinchey, and I) spent many hours of our own time over a 4 week period researching and working on a proposal. We donated our time without expecting any reimbursement because we believe it is our duty to the community to do a thorough review of all the concerns and facts around the issue before taking action.
First, I need to clarify the facts around the ordinance:
· June – Council moves to enforce existing ordinance that bans chickens.
· October – Council suspends enforcement of existing ordinance.
· Early December – Directive received from Council at the Planning Commission monthly meeting to provide a recommendation on a revised ordinance about keeping chickens. 3 person committee formed to work on the proposal.
Committee members start doing independent research on the topic before first committee meeting.
·Mid December – Council appoints Mark Robinson to be the Council representative on the Planning Commission. To ensure Council’s concerns were addressed he was added to the committee. With 4 Planning Commission members on the committee constituting a quorum of the Planning Commission, the Open Meetings Act required advance notice before the committee could meet.
·Late December – Independent research continued, but with limited Village Office hours, the need for advance notice, and committee member schedules, a meeting in December was not possible. Committee set a date in January to review research prior to the January Planning Commission meeting.
· Early January – 3 committee members met, Mark Robinson could not attend. Rough draft created by committee, and points to be clarified identified. Update provided to Planning Commission at January meeting, Mark Robinson could not attend. Decision made to have Committee meet in full to include Mark Robinson and present final draft at February Planning Commission meeting.
·Mid January – Planning Commission asked to provide update at Council meeting. A member of the committee met with Mark Robinson to ensure he had a chance to review all the research so far, and the draft proposal, so he could provide an update to the Council. Mr. Robinson was expected to provide the status update for the Planning Commission to the Council since he is the appointed representative for the Council on the Planning Commission, and the Chairman of the Planning Commission spoke to him directly about this. At the Council meeting, the Council moved to adopt a modified version of the Fenton ordinance provided by Karen Sleva. Council member Brice was the only dissenting vote, with Council President Wills absent.
I could not understand why Council decided to completely disregard their own action to have the Planning Commission provide input until I watched the video of the council meeting.
The update provided by Mark Robinson was not an accurate report, but instead turned into a presentation of the modified version of the Fenton ordinance provided by Karen Sleva that did not take into account any of the research done by the committee. Modifications were presented without any explanation or reasons provided. Statements were made that the Planning Commission was taking too long, and that nobody from the Planning Commission was present in spite of the fact that Mark Robinson is a member of the Planning Commission. Only Council member Brice raised the point that the Planning Commission only had this task for a few weeks, and should be allowed to finish their task before Council takes action.
I am convinced that the only reason for Council’s action is to effectively prevent any possibility for our citizens to keep chickens in the Village. Requiring written permission from all neighbors is an unjustified hurdle to property owners for a permitted use. It is clear there is a personal agenda behind these actions. If they do not want to allow anyone to have chickens they should just be open about it and not hide behind a sham ordinance. Their action insults the intelligence of our residents.
Just to be clear, these Council members that voted to move forward with a poorly researched ordinance with clearly unjustified requirements, are our fellow community members and neighbors. One of them is an immediate neighbor of mine whom I always considered to be a good neighbor. I am also glad to see them at community events such as the Halloween bonfire. However, when they are sitting on that Council, several of them are NOT doing a good job of representing me or many others in our community.
As a Planning Commissioner, I do want to hear all the views of our community members. I invite residents to attend our meetings, or contact the Village Office to provide input on topics. We are currently working on revising the Master Plan as directed by the Council, and will be actively seeking input on this process. Unlike some Council members, our Planning Commission wants to follow a proper, thorough, fact-based process to develop a Master Plan that balances the views and interests of our community.

Sincerely,

Larry Hayden