Save the Hunter Family Farm

What would you do if your life dream was ripped away by nosy neighbors who decided that your legally zoned lifestyle was an affront to them? This is what happened recently in Antwerp Township, MI.

Kelly & Dave have put their heart and soul into their farm in Antwep Township. They bought a run-down farm and restored it to glory. The property is zoned R-1, which allows farm animals, and they have honeybees, some chickens and turkeys, a horse, and two donkeys. Two neighbors complained to the Antwerp Township inspectors about a number of phantom complaints, including one of Kelly's honeybees stealing water from the neighbor's property. Having been inundated with such complaints by these two, the township told Kelly and Dave this week that they must get rid of most of their animal and poultry, except a horse and one donkey, because they have "too many animals". We are not sure how this is possible, since Kelly and David cleared the acquisition of each animal with the township before acquiring it.

Township inspectors have been to their farm numerous times and found no infractions or violations. In fact, during one visit they stood directly next to a dung pile for some time and did not notice it by scent or by insect activity. They only noticed it was a dung pile when Kelly brought it to their attention. Now, having reversed themselves on their prior rulings, Antwerp Township is telling my friends that "they brought this on themselves".

How, exactly? By complying with every condition placed upon them? Apparently by not giving in to the bullying of two nosy neighbors, this is how "they brought this on themselves". Additionally, not once did either of these neighbors come talk to Kelly and David themselves. They were apparently very troubled by the small hobby farm next door, but not enough to come and talk to their neighbors about it. They went right to the local government, which has said all along that Kelly and Dave have been within the law. Now they suddenly are not. Why?

I think it's a shame when two people can bully a township into closing a farm that has done nothing to detract from the quality of life enjoyed by their neighbors. No other neighbors, and there are several, have complained. Perhaps these two thought that if anyone actually bought the run-down farm and put farm animals where it is zoned for farm animals, they could complain until they got their way. So it appears to go in Antwerp Township.

My heart breaks for Kelly and Dave and their two young sons. They both work regular jobs, and the farm is not a significant source of income for them. They simply wish to live a farming lifestyle, and until their two neighbors decided they shouldn't, they were doing just that with the blessing of Antwerp Township.

They have been told they can apply for a variance from the township, but that the township doesn't have to approve it. When Kelly asked what the variance would be for, the inspector could not tell her. Why?

I am asking for your help in donating to their legal fees to fight this injustice, so that they may keep their animals.


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