A proposal that would have allowed people to raise chickens in Macomb laid an egg. A clear majority of the city council opposed the idea during the November 26 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“If we open this door, then the next thing you know it’s pot-bellied pigs or llamas. Now’s the time to stop that, right now,” said Third Ward Alderman Lou Gilbert.
Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett pointed out those who want to raise chickens could buy land just outside the city limits that is zoned agricultural. Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell raised concerns about enforcement, pointing out the city is already unable to enforce all the laws on the books.
Second Ward Alderwoman Kay Hill also opposed it.
“I think there’s just a trend that this is kind of a groovy thing to do, and having organic eggs isn’t the primary endeavor,” Hill said.
Opponents also said there are plenty of producers in the area offering organic eggs and free range chicken.
But Macomb resident Dan Barclay said raising chickens is not just a fad or a trend. He said plenty of other cities allow it. He also countered Gilbert’s suggestion this would open the door for other animals in Macomb.
“The slippery slope is a very typical argumentative fallacy. I mean, if we get chickens, the next thing we’re gonna have is goats. The next thing we’re gonna have is cattle. The next thing we’re gonna have is whales. It makes no sense. Just say ‘No’ to the next animal you don’t want,” Barclay said.
Seven of the eight alderman present opposed the idea. The only supporter was Seventh Ward Alderman Clay Hinderliter.
“Noise! Roosters! C’mon guys, we got 38 trains that go through this town every day,” Hinderliter said, adding in response to the suggestion that people move to areas zoned for agriculture:
“Yeah, if you don’t like it, move. That’s a great way to build a community.”
The proposed guidelines drafted by the Planning Commission and Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch were fairly stringent. Chickens would have been allowed only in areas zoned R-1 and R-2, the minimum lot size allowed was 6,000 square feet, the number of chickens allowed would have been four (with no roosters allowed), a permit would be required and would have to be renewed every year, and fines could be imposed against those who did not properly care for the chickens as per city guidelines.