Fighting an Uphill Battle

by Daniel
(Spring Grove, IL. )

During my adventures to become a homesteader, I have had to become creative. This has included building garden boxes out front and fencing in the yard for any future additions of livestock.

The most fun I have had is learning to garden by chance and reading what I could from the internet. So now that I have had a successful season with my vegetable garden, I now was looking to add livestock.

I have been contemplating how I was going to acquire these animals. By acquiring, I refer to whether I was going to have "outlaw" chickens and goats or if I were to get the ordinance changed for my "R-1" zoning problem.

R-1 is considered "residential basic" allowing 1 single family home with a 2 car residential garage. That is the maximum of what is allowed within my own 2/3 acre; if you desire a shed, you need to get it approved or if your need a fence, it needs a permit. I live in a county that require a minimum of 5 acres to have any livestock---including chickens. So being in R-1 zone, I can have 0 livestock.

On Monday I decided I would put together my research and have a meeting with the would-be powers at the "building and zoning" department. They were very nice and naive when it came to chickens and coops. They seemed to be fair and one inspector seemed like he was very interested in my success. They explained two avenues through which I could take in getting my chickens.

One was the changing of the county ordinance through a meeting with the county board members which would require assistance from an attorney. This would request a change for the county as a whole, and it would take about four months time.

The other avenue was to apply for a variance to my own property which would be to change my zoning and would take about two months, but I would only need to meet with a zoning department review board.

So I decided to meet with the zoning department review board, starting my adventure with one small step. They explained that going in front of the "county board" would cost about $1,500 not including attorney fees. So choosing the review board would be the cheaper solution.

Well I was right, it was only $975 to have a hearing with the zoning review board, whether or not I won or lose. Well right there I thought they were kidding. Who exactly from the review board would require to be paid? They are all on the government payroll and there was no outside intervention.

So why does it cost almost $1,000 to have a meeting, and then they could change my paperwork on my tax pin number. This $1,000 doesn't include my permit fee for a structure and health department permit because of my septic system which is another $150. I started thinking how long it would take to for these chickens to pay for themselves and whether or not I could change my zoning with a variance.

Well I decided that this would take a lot of work and cost that it would not make financial sense at this time. It looks like a possible solution would be to gather a group of like-minded people and change this ordinance in front of the county one day maybe but not today!

Comments for Fighting an Uphill Battle

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Apr 03, 2010
Right to Farm
by: Richard

Surprisingly, here in Socialist Michigan, we have a "Right To Farm Act of 1983". It supersedes any city ordinance. This does not mean that I will not be harassed by the city for a short time until they have to pay for the Dept of agriculture investigations.

Not to mention it is your God Given right to support your family as best you can.

See if you have the same.

God Bless

Mar 21, 2010
by: Ric @ goose poop farm

Dan, You wow me with your passion to return to a more humble lifestyle. You have made me re-evaluate my own life. I tend to get caught up with wants versus needs. My struggle to get where I am today did not happen overnight.
I chuckle because you remind me a lot of myself in years earlier. I fought city /government many times with neighbors on board with petitions to change for the better my idea of a quality of life issue.

My urban homestead, 40' x 120" including a house, was as much like a farm as I could expect in the city. In fact, I was more successful with produce. I didn't have the chickens to ravage my garden before I could. Nothing went to waste; I remember with fond thoughts of years in the city. Relish your time there. You're doing your best and I commend you.

Chickens can be a pain; they tie you down and are more needy than children. Be up to let them out at sunrise and make sure you're home to put them to bed at dusk. I started with 300 last year and down to 70 now. I always bite off more than I can chew. New to the farm, the predators and weather were not my friends. Still learning the hard way.

I can ramble on, so I'll put the breaks on now. Let me close with let your dreams unfold and they will in time. Enjoy the present and chose your battles wisely.

Good luck on your endeavors, and keep us informed.

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