By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
The issue deals with three separate amendments: article three to allow chickens in the traditional residential district; article four that would allow them in the rural estate district; and the animal ordinance would have to be amended to allow chickens.
The planning commission held a public hearing on this matter and approved it for consideration by the Boyne City Commission.
The proposal received overwhelming support by public officials and citizens alike.
During the public comment phase of the meeting Connie Dhaseleer asked if the chickens would be fenced in.
Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson said there were several specific regulations:
Sandy Hill, who originally approached the board with the matter last year said she has had her chickens in town for nearly three years.
“I have had no problems with noise, with pests or animals coming after them,” she said. “I have enjoyed them very much as pets. I didn’t keep them penned in at first, I let them run loose.”
Hill said chickens are pets with benefits.
“I think the biggest thing people need to do if they want to get chickens is to educate themselves … so they know what they’re getting into and they’re not just winging it,” she said.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she asked many people around town about their thoughts.
“The overwhelming majority say they do not want it,” she said. “I’m going to back the majority.”
Sansom’s reasons for being against it included the close proximity of some neighbors to one another.
“I’ve look around town at various sizes of people’s lots and I can’t foresee how you could possibly have chickens and not be offensive to some neighbors,” she said. “The residential downtown area should be free from chickens.”
Sansom added, “We have agricultural zones. We’re a rural community. There’s lots of places to go to raise chickens. The reason I chose to live in town is I don’t want to live next to a farm.”
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he probably had a 50/50 split of residents who approached him both for and against the ordinance proposal.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said the planning commission spent three or four months working on the proposal before concluding unanimously that many of the perceived issues were non-issues.
“For example: say you have a small lot. You can’t have chickens but you can have as many cats and dogs as you want,” he said. “I just don’t think we need to over-regulate this so it’s the toughest regulation in our ordinance.”
Neidhamer added, “I think that it will police itself. It’s a reasonable and operable ordinance that makes sense to me.”
He said he has had no one opposed to it but numerous people in favor of the proposal.
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch said he also supports the measure.
“I think early on when this first came out the language and the parameters and how they had to be taken care of, I personally thought they were so restrictive that nobody’s going to want to do it,” he said. “It’s very limited as far as what you can do with them.”
Grunch said he has had far more people in favor of it contact him than not.
“If this isn’t self-policing and gets out of hand we can tighten the ordinance up,” he said.
No permits will be required to possess chickens.
The motion passed 3-1. Sansom was the lone “no” vote. Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord was absent.
Kirtland noise issue
Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson updated the Boyne City Commission during its Tuesday May 8 meeting.
He said consultant RSG has been hired and they are working with Kirtland Products to possibly analyze the facility toward the end of May.
The noise issue citizens committee held a conference call with the MDEQ about the permitting process.
“The key thing is here only have of it has happened. Right now they have the permit to install but then they have to get the testing done to make sure they are in compliance with those requirements,” McPherson said. “They do need to be running at near capacity to get a good test.”
The committee indicated that the emissions consultant should be sought soon so they are ready to go when the testing is performed.
Resident Connie Dhaseleer asked if the plant would be running at capacity during the testing.
McPherson said the plant would need to do so.
RSG was hired by the city in April after direction from the Kirtland noise issue citizens committee for $14,800.
Several citizens voiced concerns about the emissions and the odor from the plant.
Resident John McCahan asked if the consulting firm shouldn’t perform their testing until after the MDEQ performs its testing and gives its results.
McPherson said Kirtland will not perform the testing itself.
“The DEQ does not do the testing. Kirtland has to hire an independent firm and they do the testing according to the DEQ standards and submit that data to the DEQ for analysis,” he said. “Our thought was to have a peer review and then have an observer watching the testing procedure and also look at the data and make their analysis and be able to tell us is there any additional testing or issues that in their professional opinion we need to be looking at.”
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said the process is in place to solve the problem.
“I think the citizens, the commission, the study group has acknowledged that we do have a problem and I feel there is nothing I can do … until the committee makes a ruling and until the data comes in,” he said.
The sound testing is scheduled to begin May 21. Monitoring would be performed for 24 hours with the plant operating and 24 hours with the plant offline.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen asked about the direction of the wind and the location of the monitors to ensure accuracy.
“We talked about that very specific issue and they would take that into account,” McPherson said. “After they get their data they can model for any type of weather condition that can happen.”
Each piece of equipment will be monitored so they can identify what needs to be mitigated.