Township Board Discusses Uniformity, Marijuana, Chickens

Wide range of topics addressed at Monday night meeting.

Highlights from Monday night's West Bloomfield Township board meeting:

Clerk wants to standardize branding

How would you know a township official was who they said they were if they came to your doorstep? Clerk Catherine Shaughnessy raised that concern as the West Bloomfield Township board debated the branding of letterheads, envelopes and business cards at its meeting in Town Hall on Monday.

“We began to morph our township logos and business cards into things that no longer resemble the standard,” Shaughnessy said as the board considered a memo from purchasing agent Cindy Victor regarding buying stationery with a uniform standard. “There are plenty of other ways that our staff can be creative. It’s important to know when you look at a business card, you know that official came from West Bloomfield.”

The township board had debated its stationery at a Feb. 7 meeting, where a resolution to adopt a uniform standard using a dark Blue Heron logo was approved. Shaughnessy had mentioned in her resolution from that time that recently, several departments had deviated from the logo to include different photographs, colors and logos, including that of Facebook and the RiverSafe program.

“I like the fact that the environmental department has its own logo,” Trustee Steve Kaplan said. “I think it creates recognition.”

Board members made several suggestions to Victor regarding variances on her memo, which she agreed to do. The board agreed to postpone further discussion until its scheduled meeting May 16.

Medical marijuana moratorium confirmed

The township board confirmed its six-month extension on a previously adopted moratorium on medical marijuana, which was approved Nov. 15 to allow Michigan the opportunity to clarify the state Medical Marihuana Act.

Since then, the board had extended its six-month extension to begin Dec. 31, which stretches this extension to June 30. Also since then, Bloomfield Township and South Lyon have gone to Oakland County Circuit Court to defend their ordinances regarding medical marijuana. The board voted 5-2 to confirm the extension, with Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste and Trustee Steve Kaplan casting nay votes.

“I believe the supervisor’s concern was that someone might measure the six months to come from Nov. 15,” township attorney Gary Dovre said. “(The extension) allows time if the board wants to revisit the subject of an ordinance amendment before the court decisions are coming back and the Legislature acts.”

Kaplan had motioned to amend that the township declared all activities that are contrary to federal law not be permitted, in order to comply with other communities laws regarding medical marijuana. “I know of no resident who has complained that he or she cannot obtain medical marijuana in another community,” he said. “Twenty-eight months have passed by (since the act went into effect) and I don’t see people lining up to say we need medical marijuana in West Bloomfield.”

That motion was voted down. “That’s so broad, it’s not meaningful,” Trustee Howard Rosenberg said. “What does mean something to me is that the people of the state of Michigan voted overwhelming to approve medical marijuana. The problem with that vote is that it’s so inconsistent and so problematic that there’s no way to enforce it. That’s the reason I’m in favor of the moratorium … but I can’t support that amendment.”

The board seemed unclear as to what would happen after the June 30 moratorium expired.

Ordinances running a-fowl of subdivision bylaws?

The township board voted to ask the community development department to work with the planning commission to craft an ordinance to allow for the keeping of chickens in residentially zoned areas.

Senior planner Sara Roediger presented an amendment to the zoning ordinance accompanied by a report that addressed solutions to common problems with raising chickens, which, Roediger said, has come up twice at zoning board of appeals meetings this past year.

Westacres resident Mary Fox said she was one of the residents who had appealed the zoning board’s ruling that she could not raise chickens. Fox addressed public comments as well as concerns from the board that raising chickens would lure predators such as coyotes and that noise from roosters would be a bother to neighbors.

“Chickens don’t lure any more predators than we have already,” Fox said. “As for noise issues, if you have hens, you’d never know they’re there. I have 15 hens. Our sub was built on the foundation that people in this township farmed and I have built a suburban agriculture business.”

Trustee Larry Brown said subdivision bylaws would supercede the bylaws laid out by the township. “If you live in a very old sub which says that you can’t have chickens, that might be enough to say that you can’t have chickens … My concern is that if you start adding four-five chickens and they’re in your yard as opposed to a chicken house, what the noise would start to be on a nice summer morning when the windows are open,” Brown said.

To watch the full video proceedings from the township board meeting, visit CivicCenterTV.com.

Miki Wright May 04, 2011 at 01:00 PM
I am not a resident of West Bloomfield, but I am a backyard chicken keeper. There is no logical reason not to allow chickens. They don't make as mush noise as my neighbors' dogs, nor do they keep me up at night. We have had no new predators or vermin. The only time we had a problem with smell was when we first got them, and put a fly trap in the coop--because we thought we should. The fly trap smelled WAY worse than the chickens ever do. With more and more people concerned about their health, nutrition, local foods, and how their foods are produced, backyard chickens make perfect sense. The manure composts into great fertilizer. The eggs are a truly local source of clean healthy protein. The birds are lovely pets, and give children an education on where food comes from--not the grocery store! Chickens eat table scraps which keeps scraps out of the landfill and the waste system. The only possible objection would come from an outdated suburban flight from the country--the land that produces our food. It was once seen as "low class" to raise food. Only poor people did it. But that is no longer true. We have, thankfully, been enlightened to the healthful benefits of backyard food, and now it is sometimes referred to as elitist. Times change.
Timothy Rath May 04, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Miki, thanks for the comment. Do you live in Metro Detroit? I would be very interested to know how other communities' chicken policies compare with those being considered by the township board.
Ryan May 06, 2011 at 12:09 PM
i live in west bloomfield and am thinking about getting chickens. I have done alot of research and also my family down south has chickens and i dont understand what the issue is here. Rosters are the loud bird but if you want to just have the some hens for Eggs or for meat i dont see the big deal. Hens dont make nearly as much noise as some of my fellow Niebhors dogs do at all hours of the day and night. what about The Michigan Right to Farm Act, P.A. 93?


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