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Tuesday September 26, 2017
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City Guide

City Ordinances

A quick look at some of the more unusual city ordinances. To read the complete city code, visit the city clerk's office, or look online at (click on "Democracy," then choose "Codes & Ordinances").


Residents of the City of Ann Arbor may apply for either a two-bird permit or a six-bird permit from the city prior to acquiring chickens (but no roosters), based on a number of conditions and restrictions. Permits to keep more than two birds are issued only if the applicant's adjacent residential neighbors provide written consent. Chickens must be kept in a backyard, within a fenced enclosure at all times, and must be provided with a covered shelter. Enclosures and feed must be maintained so as not to attract or harbor rats, mice, or other rodents. Permits cost $20 ($55 if more than two birds) and are good for 5 years. Forms are available online at, or at the City Clerk's office.


At crosswalks without traffic lights, drivers must stop for pedestrians stopped at the curb, at the curb ramp, or within a crosswalk. It is illegal to pass another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, or to drive "in such manner as to splash snow, rain, water, mud, dirt, or debris" onto pedestrians on sidewalks or crosswalks.

Domestic Violence

Ann Arbor's domestic violence law requires police to arrest a person "when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that person has, within the previous 24 hours, assaulted a spouse, former spouse, or other person residing or having resided in the same household, if the victim has visible signs of injury from the assault or if the assailant used or threatened to use a dangerous weapon." An arrest can be made even without the victim wanting to prosecute.

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Landlords & Tenants

By law, landlords must give their tenants the city-produced booklet Rights and Duties of Tenants or face fines of up to $500. The booklet is available at the city clerk's office. One booklet per rental unit is available free of charge to landlords and tenants.

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The owner of every parcel of land is responsible for "grading, planting, mowing, and raking the extension or city street right-of-way so that it is covered with turf grass with an average height not in excess of 12 inches or other ground cover vegetation with an average height not more than 36 inches above the adjacent road surface"-unless the vegetation presents a view hazard based on the criteria of AASHTO, (American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials). On private property no turf grass taller than 12 inches is permitted.


No one "shall consume liquor on the public streets, in a public parking lot" or in any business not licensed for on-premise liquor consumption. Approved events with outdoor liquor sales are exempt.


Under the City Charter, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a civil infraction carrying a penalty of $25 for the first offense, $50 for second offense, and $100 for third offense. Additional court costs and fees may be added. The City recognizes the use of small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes as a reasonable defense, which may result in penalties being dropped. In practice, the city court usually chooses between enforcing its own law or the state law on the basis of the amount of marijuana found. State law makes possession of the drug (except for medical purposes) a criminal offense, possibly punishable by jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,000. The Michigan Medical Marijuana law, passed in November 2008, protects medical marijuana patients from prosecution under state law, but federal law still classifies marijuana as a narcotic, and federal agents continue to arrest and prosecute those who cultivate or sell it. The U-M police force and county sheriff's deputies follow the state law.

Non-motorized Transportation

No roller skates, sleds, coasting wagons, toy vehicles, or similar devices are allowed on streets, except on a crosswalk. No person riding on such a device is allowed to attach the device or their self to any vehicle on the street or highway. Bikes on the roads between a half-hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise must use headlights and have rear reflectors, and "every bicycle shall be equipped with at least one effective brake."

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