Williamstown Twp. Family Prepares To Fight Lawsuit For Farm

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

After months of battling to keep their goats, pigs, ducks and chickens, the Hudson family of Williamstown Township is gearing up for court.

"We have no intention of getting rid of the animals. We'll be taking this as far as it needs to go," said Jessica Hudson, who received a 'cease-and-desist' letter from township attorneys, last week, saying the animals were a zoning violation and they had ten days to get rid of them.

Those ten days ended on Friday and the animals were still there.

"The township will file suit against her," said Gary Bender, who is serving as the township's attorney. "There is a violation of the township ordinance and we believe that we will prevail on behalf of the township."

Not so fast, according to Hudson. She's been working with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund for months.

On Friday, with the help of $15,000 in donations, the fund, which protects the rights of family farms, officially agreed to take the case.

"They have already won several cases identical to ours," said Hudson. "They know the law, inside and out. Because we are selling things, we are protected by the Michigan 'Right-to-Farm' Act.

According to Hudson, the protection of the act trumps any local ordinance because it's a state law.

Bender says, she's got it all wrong.

"The statute was written to protect the activity of an existing farm, which is carrying on farming operations," he said. "Then, a developer buys the land next door and the new residents complain about the preexisting farming operation."

With no agreement in sight, both sides say they're ready to take this case to court.

Bender told News 10, Friday, he will meet with the township, early next week, and file the lawsuit.


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  • by Anon on Apr 10, 2013 at 04:12 AM
    I also would ask who was there first and when was the zoning law put in place. At this point, Mrs. Hudson claims she was told it was okay to have her animals. Does she have the name of a person who told her that? Anything in writing? Anything at all to back up her claim? IF (and this is a big if) she ever actually spoke to someone about raising animals, was she specific about the type of animals she planned to have? I would back the township on this one.
  • by Anna Location: Hazel Park on Apr 8, 2013 at 06:06 AM
    I hope the Hudson family wins!
  • by Maggie Location: northern Michigan on Apr 3, 2013 at 01:01 PM
    Sarah, those are uncalled for and harsh words. Who are you to judge who can/can't "bring more children into the world?" A mistake? My grandchildren also have allergies and they are NO MISTAKE! Sheesh! Besides, you don't know the whole story. She was told she COULD have the animals BEFORE they moved. If you had been following recent events and issues, you would know that Shady Grove Farm in the U.P. just WON a case almost exactly the same. May you enjoy your GMO, pesticide/herbicide dressing on your fruits/veggies and processed foods because you don't obviously "get it." This family will prevail with the help and support of the people who raise and grow the healthy food and understand their right to do the same.
  • by Diane Dobson Location: PA on Apr 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM
    SO my question is "who was there first" and when was the zoning law put into effect and why? I hate it when people move into the neighborhood and then complain about their neighbors when they were there and have been there for years.
  • by Sarah Bernheim Location: charlotte on Mar 31, 2013 at 11:25 AM
    I would say this family did not do due diligence. You don't move to an area protected by zoning laws you can't accept. Making the mistake of having two children with severe allergies should certainly demand an unselfish act of not bringing more children into the world. Next they will want the horrid government to pay for health coverage for shouldn't exist as a need.
  • by Susan Location: Shaftsburg on Mar 29, 2013 at 03:27 PM
    Good luck, Jessica! I'm rooting for you. Williamston govt seems to forget the town's most basic roots. Families and Farming.
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