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Residents Urge Farmington Officials to Reconsider Proposed Animal Ordinance

Some say the new measure goes too far in restrictions for certain types of animals.

Is there enough "farm" left in Farmington to accommodate chickens?

How about a small horse? 

Those questions were raised Monday night as Farmington city council members considered new ordinances that provide definitions to help enforce city codes regarding domestic and exotic animals. 

The ordinances would define domesticated animals as those commonly considered capable of being trained or capable of adapting to living in a human environment and are not likely to bite without provocation. Livestock, wild, vicious or exotic animals are excluded. 

A lengthy section of the ordinance defines "exotic or vicious" animals as being of a wild or predatory nature and not domesticated or indigenous to the state. Officials unanimously approved introduction of the ordinances, which some residents said go too far, and put off a vote about whether to allow residents to raise chickens within city limits. 

Kathleen Fedewa, who moved to a home on Cloverdale last April, said state law already has provisions that govern exotic and wild animals, making Farmington's law unnecessary. She also said the ordinance contained confusing language.

Fedewa brought in a tiny reptile named "Antoinette", which she said could be excluded as exotic or vicious, because it can be predatory. She is also planning to raise a genetically tamed silver fox, brought over from Russia, that would likely be banned under the new ordinances.

"The people (the ordinances are) going to affect are people like me, and it's only going to affect me negatively," she said. 

Patrick Thomas, who wants to raise a miniature horse on his 3-acre property, urged officials to consider horses domesticated animals, rather than livestock. He said the human relationship with the horse has evolved to the point where they are considered more an "aspirational pet" than livestock. 

Thomas said Livonia's code allows two horses on one acre, but Mayor Tom Buck pointed out that city has a much lower density than Farmington, a 2.5-square-mile city that's home to more than 10,000 residents. 

Pastue pointed out that the ordinances "allow city council and planning commission to carve out exceptions. This really sets a very clear baseline for how (the city's existing ordinance) is administered now." 

Officials will consider the ordinances again in March. They did not take action on a proposed ordinance that would allow residents to raise chickens, but council member Greg Cowley made no secret of where he stands. To him, chickens are a nuisance, because they may be offensive to neighbors and could affect property values. 

"We're an urban environment, we have a very dense population. We have to put some brackets around what's a good idea," he said. "I'm open for discussion, but I'm not here to endorse a nuisance."

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