Friday, April 21, 2006

Chickens vs Condos

I wish the Leelanau Enterprise had posted the story, but I'll just have to tell it myself.

On March 30th, the Enterprise ran a front page story about a complaint that had been lodged by the local sales manager of the new condominium project in Suttons Bay. It seems that the neighboring farm includes chickens, some of which are crowing roosters. The sales manager complained to the village council that:
It is constantly crowing, which in turn is making it difficult to show that particular property (to prospective buyers). I understand that our neighbors are not zoned to have a farm on that property, yet they have several chickens, ducks, and a rooster in a pen, located near the water.
It is hard to figure out what she was thinking. She must not be too familiar with small town life. Village officials responded quite confidently that the chickens were OK. To quote village manager Chuck Stewart:

That farm has been there for about 150 years. I'd say it predates our zoning ordinance by well over a century. Besides, there's nothing in the village zoning that prohibits anyone from keeping chickens within the village limits. Several families keep chickens, one family has goats, and another even keeps horses inside the village. This is Northern Michigan, after all, and we're proud of our agricultural heritage.

The sales manager should use the poultry as a selling point. Fresh Eggs Next Door! Around the same time that this story broke, I was hosting web ads for Omlet USA, a backyard chicken supplier that custom ships a utra-fashionable coop with hens right to your home. I was especially taken with their page of fashion magazines with articles on backyard chickens. Chic chicks!

I guess the poor woman really didn't figure that her complaint would not only be spurned, but would run on the front page of the Enterprise. Even I was surprised about the letters to the editor, three weeks running, on this issue. They seemed to have tapped a deep vein of discontent towards people who want to move to Leelanau because it is so "unique" and then set out to change it to be more like everyplace else.

Known Books has posted a page of Suttons Bay Roosterisms.


CW said...

The crowing chicken incident has suddenly become the poster child for urban development slamming head on into established rural America, with reportly some downstate and national press coverage.

The Property Manager should have already had some awareness of how many people in the community look at her development as overwhelming and pretentious. Instead she looks almost comical for her naive, "I've gotta to sell some condos here!" attitude.

Her lack of cognizance with the local landscape defiantely needs to be addressed. I'm proposing a NMC Extended Ed class for area newcomers entitled: "The Chickens and the Condos Should be Friends." (My apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

Brother Chris (not associated with any local church or temple)

Susan Och said...

After the sales manager's complaint about chicken noise, a few of the other neighbors noted in letters to the editor that they didn't mind the crowing, but they were getting pretty sick of the sound of construction machinery.

All of the birds around here have been singing their hearts out for spring. I've also heard more grouse drumming this spring than I've ever heard before. I wonder if they are taking advantage of all of the new open space from the powerline construction.

Last weeks Enterprise noted a new neighborly spat. I seems that the crews building the condo cut down some trees that actually belonged to the farm. That made the paper, too.