Family Fights to Keep Farm Animals in Williamstown Township

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

"We were in violation of their zoning ordinances and we had to get rid of our animals," said Hudson.

For the Hudson family of Williamstown Township, their house was a dream come true.

With five kids who have specific food allergies, Jessica Hudson and her family wanted a place where they could raise small farm animals.

"I called the township ahead of time to make sure that our animals would be okay and we could have the homestead that we wanted," said Hudson. "We were told that was fine."

They moved into the home in August, but three months, and several goats, pigs and chickens later, the family received a letter from the township.

"We were in violation of their zoning ordinances and we had to get rid of our animals," said Hudson.

A big surprise and a big problem for the family because without the animals, the Hudsons' kids would be missing out on a lot of nutrition.

"They can't have cow's milk, so we're raising our own goats," said Hudson. "They can't have soy-fed chicken eggs. They have like 14 allergies."

Hudson has been battling the township since the November letter, telling the township board, on Tuesday, her family is protected by the 'Right to Farm' Act because they intend to sell items from their farm.

Supervisor Mickey Martin says she sympathizes with the Hudsons' situation, but also says that protection does not count with zoning violations.

"Every zone has their permitted uses and in the 'R-1' zone, farm animals are not a permitted use," said Martin.

As for the initial 'okay' for the animals over the phone...

"I've talked to all the staff and officials. No one recalls speaking to her regarding that," said Martin. "She also can't say who she spoke to."

Still, Hudson says she intends to keep fighting.

"We've contacted the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund," said Hudson. "I want to win it."

Williamstown Township decided during their Tuesday board meeting to contact its attorneys to get the actual wording of the 'Right to Farm' Act before it moves forward.


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  • by Jesse Location: tacoma on Feb 21, 2013 at 08:49 AM
    Have any of you prices organic eggs and milk lately? Also, those "organic" animals are most likely fed SOY and CORN, two intense allergens. The right to feed our families is under attack in this country. Note to the next person, get all approvals in writing.
  • by Sue Location: williamstown townshhip on Feb 13, 2013 at 06:10 PM
    In these times with families having difficulty making thier money stretch here is a family that has come up with an answer to take care of themselves as opposed to becoming a burden on the system. Thier children have multiple food allergies which I'm sure would not be cost effective to try to find totally organic and healthy meats and dairy. Which we all know are extremely expensive. I hope she gains the blessings of the township for her animals, of which she clearly takes very good care of and appear happy, healthy and clean. Let's all use our heads and think about exactly who is it concerning where she keeps her animals for consumption. It's not a petting zoo. She, I can tell you is not making money that she is not claiming. She is doing what she is doing for the care of her childrens medical situation. Let's start making better choices when we make accross the board laws and rules when we the people are trying to take care of ourselves and not putting our hands out to have someone else take care of us. Especially when we are doing what our ancesters did for themselves to make this country great. My hat is off to you Jessica. Thank You, Sue
  • by John Location: Lansing on Feb 13, 2013 at 01:04 PM
    It is their land and they shouldn't need permission to do this. I say shows us the victim or the complaining party or leave the family alone.
  • by Annie Location: pewamo on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM
    As a mother with children who have food allergies, I can understand her need to be able to feed them properly. It is HARD!
  • by Doug Location: Williamston on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:34 PM
    The homeowner’s narrative seems problematic. I’m not saying she shouldn’t be able to keep the animals but the urban-farming-for-food rationale doesn’t hold up. Perhaps more explanation is needed but I’m pretty sure they don’t eat their pot-bellied pigs.
  • by Anonymous Location: Michigan on Feb 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM
    This is a perfect example of why verbal approvals don't hold water. Of course no one's going to admit he/she said it was O.K. as that person's job may be in jeopardy. I agree with Elaine that the amount of acreage is very important. A couple of acres just isn't large enough, mostly because neighbors are too close. Also, is there a possibility that a compromise between the Hudsons and the township may be a solution? Exammple: goats are usually not noisy and their waste is great fertilizer; chickens aren't that noisy, however, roosters are so stick with hens; pigs aren't noisy either, however, their waste has an obnoxious odor so maybe just goats and hens would be a good compromise. Just a suggestion. Hope they can work this out. Hang in there, Hudsons!!
  • by Torri on Feb 13, 2013 at 09:25 AM
    She can BUY organic milk and eggs for her children. It won't be long before the cows come home....
  • by Elaine Location: Location on Feb 13, 2013 at 05:11 AM
    I would be interested in knowing the amount of land they are on. If it is just like an acre I can understand the ordiance but if it is several acres then I think the township should look at issuing a variance.
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