Walbridge residents cry ‘fowl’ over chicken ordinance


WALBRIDGE — Some village residents have their feathers ruffled over an ordinance that bans chickens.

Haley Reardon attended Wednesday’s council meeting to ask for a change to allow backyard chickens in Walbridge.

She presented a petition with 160 signatures — although many of them are from people who live outside of Walbridge.

Reardon said she and her husband, Andrew, have lived in Walbridge since May.

“One of the reasons that we chose to move here, and away from the big city, was because we fell in love with the small-town feel,” she said. “We do things like growing our own food, making meals from scratch, enjoying nature.

“We were a little disappointed to learn that we were not able to … have hens for some fresh eggs.”

Mayor Ed Kolanko said that the current Walbridge ordinance does not allow fowl.

“It’s up to council to change how that wording is,” he said. “Obviously, your voice is being heard today.”

Resident Dave Blankenship said he doesn’t mind people having chickens.

“My issue is what’s next?” he said. “Want to have some goats?

“Where it leads is my problem. I live in a little town because I don’t want to live on a farm.”

Blankenship also said that the chickens attract hawks.

Victor Perez said he recently moved to Walbridge, and was thinking about getting some chickens.

“It was a little bit of a disappointment,” he said of learning of the ordinance.”I’m not looking to have a farm or livestock.”

After the meeting, Kolanko said that the fowl ordinance was recently revisited by council and tightened. There was an issue with a resident having 85 chickens, ducks and geese, and a rooster, he said.

Residents who already owned chickens — except the one with the 85 fowl — are “grandfathered in.”

Councilwoman Vicky Canales said that she is open to having more discussions on chickens.

“Nobody’s ever came to us to tell us the pros,” she said. “We have to take everybody into consideration.”

The cons for allowing chickens are the smells, fencing requirements and rotting eggs that could attract coyotes, rats and raccoons, Canales said.

Councilwoman LaDenna Johnston said that the vote was 4-2 to restrict chickens in Walbridge; she voted against it.

She would rather have guidelines than a total ban, she said.

“I would have chickens,” Johnston said.

It was also pointed out during the meeting that eggs would not be allowed to be sold in Walbridge.

More discussion on this is expected at the council committee-of-the-whole meeting and through the buildings and lands committee.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Heard from Kolanko that 14 of approximately 20 Lake Township residents who were eligible signed on to Walbridge’s contract for trash collections with Republic Services.

• Appointed Muhammed Bilal and John Schoen as auxiliary police officers.

• Hired Pam Delvecchio and Tammy Kreais as part-time council clerks.

Kreais is the Bradner mayor and is very familiar with “wearing a lot of hats” in village administration, Kolanko said.

Delvecchio previously worked for the village.

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