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Local business fights ordinance banning bird feeders in downtown Manistee as fines pile up

UPDATE 3/13/24 7:00 p.m.

MANISTEE — Downtown Manistee businesses face hundreds of dollars in fines for having bird feeders, and at least one business said they’re ready to take the issue to court.

The ordinance against bird feeders downtown was adopted last month by the Manistee City Council. The City said there were complaints about bird feeders getting in the way, creating litter and even attracting birds into nearby businesses.


The first time a business is caught feeding birds the fine is $250. If they’re caught again it’s $500.

Nicole Bromley, co-owner of the Gold and Silver Exchange, said they have been going back and forth with the City and police for over a year.

“If it hasn’t been a problem for 12 years, what all of a sudden makes it be a problem? They said it caused a mess, we changed the seed, we changed the type of feeder. We’ve done everything that we could possibly do to keep them happy,” said Bromley.

Despite the new ordinance she claims was directed at her business, she said they have to continue feeding the birds or they could die.


“I’ve been told by the U of M and by the Audubon Society that birds who have been eating at a particular feeder for a long length of time, that they are used to that feeder,” said Bromley.

Bromley said they feel they are being singled out, and that other businesses have broken ordinances like flags protruding lower than the bird feeders hang.

“We’ve got over 200 signatures that don’t want it banned, and yet they won’t even think about it. We have it in our window that said, ‘If you are for the bird feeders, please sign’. But they don’t care about that,” said Bromley.

City manager Bill Gambill said this wasn’t a sudden change, that they have received multiple complaints over the past three years regarding the feeders.


“I would just say that we probably communicated with them more than we’ve communicated with any other business about ongoing complaints. So I think we’ve been more than patient with this issue, but I understand their perspective,” said Gambill.

The Manistee police chief, Josh Glass, said he has no choice but to enforce the ordinance.

“We don’t control what complaints come into the police department. If there is a violation, the city ordinance education isn’t effective and we can’t find some type of solution to a middle ground, unfortunately, we have to resort to enforcement. And sometimes that means issuing citations,” said Glass.

Bromley said she will continue the fight in court.


“There’s that song that says if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And I’m going to stand up for this,” said Bromley.

2/14/24 6:20 p.m.

MANISTEE — A new ordinance in Manistee now prohibits bird feeders in the downtown district.

The update ordinance was passed on Feb. 6, and now includes birds to the list of animals that cannot be fed downtown. Residences outside the downtown district are allowed birdfeeders that are at least four feet off the ground.

While the city said the change is for the safety of pedestrians and to address littering issues, some business owners disagree.

“Let’s do the right things. I mean, I’d much rather see our our money was spent well elsewhere. There’s no need to be on bird feeders. I think it got to be more personal, you know, than it did about facts,” Jerry Johnson, the owner of Gold and Silver Exchange Manistee, said.

“We get complaints and it kind of came through the ordinance committee. So we look at things when we get complaints, and that was one that council took action on,” Manistee City Manager William Gambill said.

Johnson said they are now moving their business out of Manistee.

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