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Sad day in WIlliamsburg

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

After having my pair of peacocks for more than five years, I have to get rid of them. Our township passed a new ordinance stating that no one with less than 5 acres can have any male fowl. No matter how much property you have, no livestock can be housed within 20 feet of a property line. (We have just over an acre with a long narrow property line) Nothing will be grandfathered in. Some of the township board was unhappy with the wording and decided that it would not be enforced unless there was a complaint.

Well today, three weeks after it was passed, someone called and complained about my peacock, Toot. We were informed that he has to go as soon as possible. They graciously informed me that they would not be fining me yet. It frightens me that whoever did this could also complain about the turkeys, geese and ducks we are raising for the winter. To loose the males would be 70 percent. Even then, will they take them all because of the size of my lot? Will I have to give up the 7 year old drake duck that I rescued from an abandoned apartment?

I don't get it. Very few people even know about the new rules and why would they complain about him during the time of year that he is quiet? He is in a pen all winter and I grant that he is noisy at dusk and dawn for about a month in the spring. Otherwise he usually only calls a couple of times a day, unless the neighborhood kids are playing with him by calling or blowing a toy horn to get him to answer.( isn't it funny that you can have loud parties, screaming kids or motorcycles with no mufflers, but not a live animal that calls) Most houses put put out food for him and cars stop in front of the house to watch him in the yard.

We have a pretty good idea who called and why, but I don't even want to go there. It has been two years, almost to the day, that a neighbors dog killed 30 of my birds. I ended up in court and it cot me 14,000 dollars and the worst year of my life.

It breaks my heart to loose him. Other than my family, he is the most beautiful thing in my life. Beauty without purpose. There isn't much of that in this world. Especially in MY world. They were a gift to me from my husband after my heart failure. He has brought me such joy and wonderment. It makes me cry just to think of the gardens without him.

We will try to find a home for he and his mate Beep. I cannot imagine separating them after all these years. It makes me wonder though, what will the township decide they do not like next? Brown dogs? Striped cats? Will I have to give them up next? At least by giving up the peacocks, I might be able to keep the rest.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Move to Minnesota!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Forgive me if this is crazy, unreasonable, etc, but what makes a male -- male? If you nuetered him, would he be male? Is this an out of the question solution?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Believe me, if I could afford to move, I would. No, nuetering is not an option. Caponization is cruel and difficult surgery. It does not prevent them from calling and it would be pretty hard to convince them it made a diffrence any way. The person who complained, doesn't really care about the bird. They just want to make me miserable. I was hoping someone here in Michigan would like them. I want them to go to good homes.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Oh I didn't realize it was a calling/crowing issue. Guess it is clear I don't know anything about the bird -- I was just thinking about a loophole. No male -- no case, etc.

I am sorry you are having to deal with this. Things are hard enough without having to deal with people that are mean and vindictive.

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Sorry to hear about your troubles with neighbors. If I lived close I would take them...I hope you are able to find a good home for them. It is sorry that we have such spiteful people out there who can make things difficult for those of us who want to mind our own business by taking care of our own and be responsible in providing a good home for animals.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Go to the newspapers - human interest story is most welcome and all those folks that stop to 'visit' and the kids that love your birds may speak up and make a change. If not, there may be someone - with a large tract of land - a farm, etc. etc., who will want to give your birds a loving home and who may not hear about their need for a home without a newspaper story. Maybe you can get on the local 6:00 pm news also. At the very least - finding a new home is most pressing need.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Craig's list works good here for finding home for livestock.

Brookville, PA(Zone 5a)

I remember when you went thru that crap with those was wrong then and it is still wrong..i wish i were closer i would take them..
yes by all means try to get the news media involved and why you even have the peacocks..a human interest story couldnt hurt..
Good Luck

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh dear! As a peacock owner I sympathise with your completely! =(

The human interest story does sound like a good idea. Playing up the fact that they are long term mates and would be miserable if separated. I've read that peacocks have been knows to suffer severely from lonelyness. I would look that fact up and have it ready for the reporter and photographer to cite.

Poor things! I hope the best for you and the peacocks.

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh Jyl, I'm so sorry to hear this. I just don't understand why someone, or how someone could get anything out of making someone else miserable. This is just beyond sad. My heart goes out to you. I hope someday you can move away from that hell. Just makes me sick.

I would try the newspaper.. I know it might be hard for you to reach out like that.. but it might make the difference for your birds to get a good home.

Bridgewater, ME

I`m so sorry to hear this,I also encourage you to reach out to the media,there are a lot more animal lovers than not

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

There may be hope for the peacocks, but it get's wierder and wierder. My son talked to the township supervisor and he said that peacocks were "exotic pets" not livestock fowl and therefore not under the regulation. They also have absolutely no record of any complaint, nor did the person who was here follow protocol. Who the hell was at my door and what is going on?

Vancleave, MS(Zone 8b)

Wow can't believe you are having to go this this ordeal. I think I would file a complaint with the Police about someone impersonating a public offical coming to your door. Hope you remember the persons name or have some documents. The person should have had documents of a complaint or the new town laws.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Wow. But...WOW....good news then! I would just not say one more word to anybody about anything having to do with the ordinance. Since your son was given that info - thats it - because you do have other birds that could come under the rule and so don't want folks poking around.

Redwood City, CA

Fabulous news. Whenever you're coming up against the "law," especially a new law, you need to question every single word of it and then keep going up the chain of command, rather than accepting one person's interpretation of it. You would be amazed how many interpretations you can get. So glad you won't have to give up your boy.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Crossing fingers, toes, paws, claws, wings and whiskers that the peacock can stay....

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)


Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Peacock is fine. It does not fall under the ordinance. We still have no idea who was at our door though, the Township claims it was no one from there. Whoever it is had better realise that they are dealing with someone a heck of a lot tougher than two years ago. I will NOT be intimidated or Bullied and have a lot of people behind me.

A wise old martial arts master once asked a student "How do you watch your back?" The student replied with all the safety measures he had been taught about walking next to the wall, looking in windows to see if someone were behind him, etc... The master just smiled and nodded. Curiosity got the best of the student and he asked the master how he watched HIS back. The master looked him in the eye and said "I surround myself with people who love me so much that no one could get behind me."

I live by that.

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

That is awesome news!

If someone comes to your door again ask them for some sort of identification and if they can't produce it tell them you are going to call the cops and have them arrested for trespassing.

Tabor, SD(Zone 4b)

Grab your camera and take their picture!!! Get their license plate number. The more documention that you have, the better.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

The township supervisor gave me the wrong information. The peacock has to go. It does not matter whether the complaint had paperwork or not. It does not matter how close the person complaining lives. All anyone has to do is complain and you are forced to give up whatever they want you to. This includes my turkeys, my doves, my chickens, geese and even the 10 year old rescued duck. ONly females are allowed and must be housed 40 feet from any property line.
I don't have an 80 foot wide lot.

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

Ah, shoot what a mess the town has made of things...

I think I would go back and fight city hall on this ordinance if it were in my town.

I hope things work well out for you...

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Arrrrrggggg! Even if I couldn't think of any possible way to move for the next ten years, I would still start planning to move. I've been in very similar shoes to yours. Couldn't move, couldn't move. But I kept saving and planning.....and now I've moved. And all those trouble-making neighbors I left behind didn't know what to do. So they started picking on each other. They deserved each other!

Hope the best for you. When God slams a door, find a window to crawl out though. I know others may not be able to crawl out the same window I did, but there is never just one window!

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh Jyl... it just never ends there... I hope and pray you can find a way to get out of there... the stress alone is not good for you... I hate to hear this!!

Northern Michigan, MI(Zone 5a)

This is horrible, I can't believe there was no grandfather clause at the very least.

Richmond, TX

It is bad indeed. It has been my experience that the new residents of an area tend to ruin it for the people who have been living there long before by complaining about conditions that already existed when they moved in. Don't move next to a farm if you can't stand to see, hear or smell animals!

Are you sure the latest interpretation of the ordinance is the final say?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

I am going in Monday morning to meet with the Township supervisor and the woman who came to my door. I want proof of a complaint and the ordinance on paper in my hand. This sounds all too much like two years ago. When someone said "She pointed a gun at me and threatened me" "When exactly did this happen, what was she wearing, what kind of gun? The questions couldn't be answered then either. Something is really fishy here and it smells like familiar fish.

Hopefully it will be settled Monday and if it goes in my favor, I want some heads on a platter.

Richmond, TX

Good Luck! You are over due for some.

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

I'll be waiting with fingers crossed. Good luck!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Good luck from me, too, Jyl! This is just awful.

Joplin, MO(Zone 6b)

good luck!!!

(Zone 6b)

Yes, what about grandfathering laws in? Like if it was legal to have them when you bought them, then it is okay for you to have them until you move and someone else owns your property. Even the petroleum companies use grandfathering laws.

This message was edited Aug 14, 2011 5:57 PM

(Zone 6b)

Found this explanation on the net:

grandfather clause n. 1) a clause in a statute or zoning ordinance (particularly a city ordinance) which permits the operator of a business or a land owner to be exempt from restrictions on use if the business or property continues to be used as it was when the law was adopted. Upon passage of the statute or regulation, the specific property may be referred to as "grandfathered in." Example: the city passes an ordinance which does not permit retail businesses in a particular zone, but any existing store can continue to function in the area, even with new owners. However, if the premises stop being a retail outlet then the grandfather clause will lapse.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

There is NO grandfather clause.

Bridgewater, ME

Is there any new news?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Not really. It's time I just suck it up and face facts. When we first got the chickens years ago, we asked at the township hall if we could have them. The said they saw no problem. That person never checked the zoning laws. You weren't allowed chickens unless you had 2 1/2 acres or could house them 100 feet from any property line.

Nobody cared at the time and the zoning had never been enforced. Everyone just ignored it and went about their business. WE SHOULD HAVE CHECKED THE ACTUAL LAWS.

Then a year or so ago, someone who lives on the lake in the middle of all the MCMansions started raising chickens and rabbits for meat and to sell the eggs. They kept a lot of roosters. One of the rich summer neighbors complained. The Zoning board with mostly good intentions, made the ordinance that you COULD have "fowl" as long as there were no males. The origional intention was that they be housed 20 feet from a proplerty line. At the last minute, someone changed it to 40 feet (she lives on said lake). No one noticed before it was too late.

So the decision was made that the code would not be enforced unless there was a complaint. Now here is the biggest problem...They never defined "fowl" (They assumed the peacock was an exotic pet not fowl), nor did they designate what constituted a complaint. As written, any male bird is fair game (that means my male dove, my cockitiel or any other male bird could be removed if someone made a complaint. As far as the complaint goes, it does not have to be in writing, it doesn not have to be a neighbor, it doesn't even have to be someone residing in the township. See what a can of worms they have opened.

As it stands right now, there is no record of any complaint, the name given is assumed to be false (although we are pretty sure who it is). The zoning board meets again September 12. If I want to attend and speak, it will cost be 250 to apply for a variance. I have already been told it will be denied. They are however, supposed to define what constitutes "fowl" and the procedures for a complaint.

There is a remote possibliity that I can keep the peacock. Everything else will have to go as we are in violation of both the old ordinance and the new one. I cannot comply with the housing requirements. I can keep things untill there is a "complaint". We know that will come sooner or later, so my feeling now is just to get rid of everything now instead of going through this all again.

I would just like to wait long enough to finish the turkeys and geese, so I don't lose that investment too.

So far, my right to rehabilitate wildlife is ok, but they want me to apply for a variance on that too. I won't. I will stop. I cannot afford to keep going. Compassion is nice, but doesn't pay the bills.

So, that's where we are right now. Waiting till Sep12 or for the other shoe to drop.

Kingman, AZ(Zone 7a)

Hugs J...

Tamworth, NH(Zone 4b)

I'm so sorry Jyl. I have been in a similar position, though not as extreme as yours.

Most zoning regs are poorly written and open to interpretation, because those who write them don't think about the fact that they need to define exactly what they are talking about. Someone probably wanted to prevent people having roosters, but thought "male fowl" sounded better or more "legal" or something, and now no one knows what it means.

If I won the lottery I'd give you enough money so you could move out of there. I assume it's money that is the barrier to you moving. Maybe we could help you brainstorm ideas? Could you find a connection through friends to someone who has a farm who would let you raise your turkeys and geese there for a share of the meat? Maybe someone in your rehabbing community would know someone?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

The reason I started raising my own meat and eggs was that I felt that if I was to eat meat, I sould be fully aware of how my food came to be. I believed I could give my birds a good life, humane death and the respect they deserved for their sacrifice to feed us. It also provided us with hormone and antibiotic free meat, which we could in no way afford otherwise. To raise them elsewhere, just doesn't seem to be an option to me. It would increase the cost if I were to care for them twice daily as I do now by consuming more gas. I also would not have the control I have over their diet and treatment. I guard my birds very carefully from preditors. It is a considerable investment for us and if they were elsewhere, I wouldn't be as able to ensure their safety.
No, I'd rather give them all up than to add to the burden of what I already have to do. That and I'm just not sure I have any fight left in me.

As for the peacocks, the person who origionaly gave the male to me will take the pair, It is not an ideal home, but it is a home if they need it.

We should know in a few days what will happen, but since I cannot meet the new zoning laws, it will be only a matter of time before someone gets a bug up their butt and wants me to get rid of everything else. I feel right now, that I would rather do it all at once than break my heart piece by peice.

Look at it this way, It will be a lot easier to keep up my gardens without everyone trying to eat them!

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