Chicken coop ruling appealed to supreme court
By Lisa Brody
A decision in 2021 by the Bloomfield Township Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) against a resident requesting a chicken coop in their yard which was affirmed by Oakland County Circuit Court but reversed on appeal is being appealed by the township to the Michigan Supreme Court as a potential infringement on local municipal control.
In 2021, Lindsey Dezman and Jon Geiger came before the township BZA requesting permission to keep a chicken coop on their property after receiving a citation. The couple, who live in a single-family residential zoned area on nearly two acres at Telegraph and Hickory Grove roads, told the BZA, according to court documents, they kept chickens as their pets to provide an educational experience for their children and in order to provide eggs for their family.
The township said its ordinances do not specifically permit a chicken coop under single family residential R1 zoning, so it means it is prohibited.
The couple argued that since there was no ordinance that forbade the coop, it should be allowed. They appealed the BZA ruling to Oakland County Circuit Court, which concurred with the township. However, when Dezman and Geiger appealed the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the appeals court overturned the ruling, agreeing with them.
Now, Bloomfield Township is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to reconsider the appeals court decision.
The Michigan Supreme Court does not take every case it is asked to consider. However, it is believed there is a strong chance they will take this case because local communities should be able to determine local control, according to officials.
“It flies in the face of decades of zoning laws and it would impact local zoning laws and the ability of local communities to determine what happens in our communities, and what works best in our local communities,” said one official.
Numerous other Oakland County communities have been dealing with the same issue of residents keeping chickens and coops in their backyards. Some, such as Royal Oak, Rochester Hills, Berkley, Ferndale and Hazel Park, permit them. Others prohibit them.
Supervisor Dani Walsh declined to comment, stating she could not discuss current litigation.