|Diane and Bill Ganssle cited for feeding birds|
This story first began on December 10, when the Ganssles received a "Notice of Code Violation" concerning their birdfeeders, which have been visited by 75 different bird species over the past 25 years. The notice informed them that their feeders need to be in enclosed and shielded containers, and ones that would not allow seeds to fall to the ground. That might attract rodents. If they failed to remedy the matter within the next five days, they could be fined as much as $1,000 per day.
According to Diane Ganssle, "We have never seen a rat or even a mouse in our back yard as a result of the seeds that fall to the ground as most seed is eaten by ground feeding birds, squirrels and chipmunks."
Code Enforcement Officer Abraham Hoffner told the Ganssles that the Township is a "complaint driven" community, meaning he does not take it upon himself to look for birdfeeder violations. Though complaining parties are known to code enforcement, their identity is kept confidential.
The Gannsles took down their birdfeeders, and purchased a new one for $50 after sending a picture and getting a clearance from Hoffner.
"We hung our feeder in our crab apple tree and have once again enjoyed birds feasting on the seeds," said Diane. "We also enjoyed watching the squirrels in the catch basin, now able to reach the feeder more easily, ... as well as dumping anything in the catch basin onto the ground when leaving."
Unfortunately for the Ganssles, their complaining neighbor spotted the squirrel, too, and provided the Code Enforcement Officer with both photographs and video of the guilty squirrel, which happens to be a rodent, sitting in the catch basin.
Now the bottom of the feeder is 8' above the ground, and the Ganssles have to use a ladder to do the daily dumping.
"There is enough government control in this country," argued Diane Ganssle. "We don't need to have rules for birdfeeding in our township that will ultimately cause our birds and wildlife to suffer."
After hearing Ganssle, Township resident Bill Berry gave his opinion of the ordinance. "It's just silly," he observed.
"You're right, it is silly," agreed Commissioner Marty Zaworski, who noted that the Ganssle property is meticulously kept. "You've got a nosy neighbor with nothing better to do," he added.
Commissioner Mike Hudak told the Ganssles that he will visit their property himself, noting he lives only a quarter mile away.
"I think your complaint is quite valid," added President Tom Nolan. "I hope it is not against the law to be kind." He assured the Ganssles that Commissioners will review the ordinance.