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It didn’t take me long to decide what my first blog post on The Livingston Post should be, one that would introduce readers to small town perspectives and municipal life in the southern end of the county. I have a little “Presidential Blog” on the Village of Pinckney website ( – and while I am sure very people read it, I actually got email from people I didn’t even know (trust me, that is very hard to do in a small town) regarding this particular post. Plus, it was – and still is – the subject of articles in the local paper. So, I am including it here, with an update at the end – because inquiring minds want to know.

June 2, 2011

Just when you think Village Presidential life is a little dull, someone submits a request to be allowed to keep chickens in their backyard. Seriously. I love this part of local government – local, ground-level decisions that have an immediate impact on residents, with the added bonus of the need for some interesting research, not to mention the humor factor. I have a whiteboard in my office, where I map out agendas for meetings, and I have to admit, having “chickens” up there just makes me laugh every time I see it.

Have I mentioned that we have some very funny people on Village Council? They had a great time with this, yet treated the request with serious attention and intelligent discussion. While we all knew the “keeping of livestock” was not allowed in the Village, we discovered that residents can indeed approach Council to allow some types of livestock by permit, and we can place some restrictions or conditions on that permit (such as number of animals, etc). We ended up tabling to decision to June 13, so we could take a look at how other communities handled the permitting and come up with our own permit application.

So far, we’ve discovered that Howell, Ann Arbor and East Lansing all allow backyard chickens with a permit. While Howell mentions all the usual critters (bovines, swine, fowl, etc), they also decided to include a detailed alphabetical list of forbidden creatures: “no person shall keep, as a pet, the following wild or exotic animals:  alligator, badger, bat, bear, beaver, bobcat, cheetah, cougar, coyote, crocodilian, eagle, elk, ermine, falcon, ferret, fox, hawk, jackal, jaguar, nonhuman primates, lemur, leopard, lion, lynx, mink, muskrat, ocelot, opossum, owl, panther, porcupine, puma, raccoon, skunk, tiger, venomous reptiles, wolf, wolf-hybrid, wolverine, weasel or wildcat.”

Is this great or what? Non-human primates! Sorry, Howell residents, your children and/or spouse are NOT wild or exotic animals, despite any evidence to the contrary. Note that this is out of alphabetical order, almost like someone was going to include “kids” and then thought, hmm, maybe not. And I noticed that elephants are not included in the list, and it doesn’t go all the way to “zebra.”

Before I start listing all the animals with names starting with the letters d, g, i, k, n, q, u, x, y and z that are missing from that list…I should say that I presented the chicken issue to second-graders at Pinckney Elementary and they voted 23-13 in favor of allowing them as long as they had a little “doghouse” and were fenced in so they couldn’t fly away and dogs wouldn’t eat them. And I’m thinking it could be just that simple. From the mouths of babes….

January 2012 Update

Since the above post, the Village did not chicken out (oh, the puns have been truly awful at our meetings) on the issue and approved two Chicken Permits for a 6 month-trial period – limit of 4 chickens, no roosters. The only complaint? I got a phone call from a resident one day, who told me everything had been fine with the neighboring chickens but lately he was sure they had a rooster. I contacted the urban chicken farmer in question, who sheepishly (ha!) admitted that they had started with chicks, one of which apparently grew into a rooster – which now had a new home outside the village. And yes, we do count the chickens (after they’ve hatched)(sorry)(OK, not really). We recently extended one of the trial permits to a one-year permit, but only as long as the 5th chicken,  found a new home. Which it did, because I sat next to its adoptive father at a Putnam Township meeting recently.


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Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary ( She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012, and as a trustee currently. She is enjoying empty-nesting in Pinckney with her husband, three cats and a few chickens.