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Chickens are now allowed at certain residential homes in Lima Township, as long as you follow the rules set out in the recently updated township ordinance.

This issue came to the Sun Times News attention after local author and Lima Township resident Celina Marie Chase contacted us in hope of seeing the Lima Township Board of Trustees adjust its backyard chicken keeping rules for the community. At that time, she and her family, and others like her, couldn’t have chickens in their backyards.

An elated Chase told STN recently to “let readers know Lima Township is the latest region to allow backyard chickens in Washtenaw County!”

The updated ordinance begins: “Keeping of Chickens in Residential Districts. The keeping of chickens for noncommercial purposes is permitted in the R-1A, R-1B, R-1C, or R-1D districts when kept in such a manner that the following standards are complied with…”

Here are the standards:
A. A property owner must submit an application for a zoning compliance permit per Section 3.4 which demonstrates compliance with the regulations of the zoning ordinance.
B. This activity shall remain an accessory use, incidental to the principal use of the lot for the principal dwelling of the property owner or their tenants.
C. No more than six (6) female chickens may be kept.
D. Roosters, male chickens, or any other type of class of fowl of poultry are prohibited.
E. Chickens must be kept as family pets or to lay eggs for personal consumption only.
F. The chickens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof enclosure that is thoroughly ventilated, of sufficient size to admit free movement of the chickens, designed to be easily accessed, cleaned, and maintained by the owners, and be at least two (2) square feet per chicken in size. All enclosures for the keeping of chickens shall be so constructed or repaired as to prevent rats, mice, or other rodents from being harbored underneath, within, or within the walls of the enclosure.
G. The chickens shall be shut into the enclosure at night, from sunset to sunrise.
H. All feed shall be stored in rodent and predator-proof containers.
I. A person must not keep chickens in any location on the property other than in the rear yard.
J. All containers, shelters, pens, and enclosures shall conform to the minimum yard setbacks for the zoning district.
K. Slaughtering of chickens on premises is prohibited.

Back when Chase contacted STN, she detailed why this issue was so important to her and her family.

For those who have done it or are doing it, Chase told STN that backyard chicken keeping can be a great experience. From raising the little chicks to seeing after their well-being on a daily basis, and then seeing what they can bring to the table, the life of backyard chicken keeping is about responsibility, learning and fun.

These themes play a big part in her children’s book called “Bawk Bawk in the Backyard: A True Backyard Chicken Story” and they also motivated her as she worked with the township in hope of seeing a change.

Chase said her husband and children were at the township board meeting with her the night the ordinance was approved.

“We were so excited and couldn’t wait to get chickens!” she said. “The very next day, we ordered our baby chicks from Dexter Mill and began building our coop. Our chicks are five weeks old now. It’s been fun watching them grow!”

She added, “I am grateful to the Lima Township Planning Commission for proposing the ordinance and the Board of Trustees for approving it. Now, more residents can experience the joy of chicken keeping!”

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