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The Fight for Chickens in Grand Rapids Not Over

Underwriting support from:


/Brenda Beerhorst

/Michael Hoyt

Just a couple of short months back on August 10th, the City of Grand Rapids Commissioners voted no on a resolution that would have amended the law to allow backyard chickens in the city. The vote was held after much input from the public was heard and deliberated. Resolute supporters of this change have not given up, however, and recent news is that there still might be a chance for the beleaguered amendment.

Scott and Kim Giese began communicating with city officials regarding “urban hens” since February of 2009. When another local family was cited for having illegal chickens in the fall of last year, the Giese family worked to mobilize the effort to change the law. “This issue is very important to my wife, me and our children because it represents what is possible in sustainable living in a responsible local environment.” explains Scott Giese. Scott's family grows their own vegetables on city lots and hunts and fishes for much of their meat. He explains that in addition to chickens in the city being more sustainable, it would also help them to “continue to provide our children with the knowledge of where our food comes from and what it takes to acquire it.”

Following the vote in August against the measure, the Giese family, rather than giving up, wrote to Commissioner Dave Shaffer (who voted no) asking what it would take for him to take another look at the issue. Admirably, Commissioner Shaffer, who claims to have voted according to what he thought his constituents wanted the first time, replied that the signatures of one thousand registered voters in his ward would cause him to have to "seriously reconsider his position." Not often in politics can you find an official that is willing to reconsider a position due to additional information from their constituents.

Naturally, this opportunity excited a revival of the chicken ordinance supporters and a push is currently underway to gather the required signatures to show Commissioner Shaffer that there is, in fact, support for the issue in his ward. As of the writing of this article, petitions are being drawn up and volunteers are being sought to assist in talking with voters and gathering signatures. Interested volunteers should express their interest via the group's Facebook page.

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 good article. we need to allow this in GR... it's a GOOD thing here people! I like the graphic for the article too