SCHENECTADY — They’re not chickening out.
But several city lawmakers say they need more before information they can support a proposal that would allow city residents to keep backyard chickens.
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said she has concerns about proximity of chicken coops to neighboring homes.
“Some people don’t have backyards — they have sideyards,” Porterfield said. “I personally don’t think sideyards would be an appropriate place for this.
“I just want to make sure we’re doing it in a way that’s respectful to the neighborhoods and the neighbors and the people that live there.”
Advocates hatched the concept after recent successes allowed the practice in the city of Albany and Niskayuna, and touted the benefits, which include providing a fresh food source, pest control and educational opportunities for kids.
Yet city officials are concerned about an increase in workload, from issuing permits, inspecting structures to responding to neighbor disputes.
“I believe something like this will undoubtedly lead to an increase in calls and workload,” said city Engineer Chris Wallin. “It just seems like another thing that will drain resources that are already thin.”
At present, Vale Urban Farms hosts a pilot project.
Some lawmakers suggested expanding that concept by allowing coops at parks around the city comparable to community garden programs.
“I would hate for us to start a process where there’s an added workload to anyone who’s working in the city and doing a great job and having to add on to what they currently do,” said Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas.
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said the city should solicit as much feedback as possible through a public hearing, which is required for any proposed legislation.
“I think we have to have some well thought-out, thorough legislation, but I think it’s a worthy thing to incorporate into our city,” Perazzo said.
Councilwoman Carmel Patrick said she’s still reviewing materials provided by advocates, and acknowledged the possibility of disputes between neighbors.
“There’s a lot to be hammered out,” Patrick said, who suggested a clause that would require cooperation from neighbors.
Councilman John Polimeni said he’s opposed, citing possibility of disease and groundwater contamination.
“There are a number of public health issues that, quite frankly, Schenectady really isn’t prepared for should they occur,” Polimeni said. “The amount of people I’ve heard from opposed to it is substantial. As a matter of fact, people were laughing that we would consider this.”
Lawmakers will revisit the issue in two weeks.
Any proposed legislation would not allow roosters.
Officials in Niskayuna, where legislation went into effect Nov. 1, said last month they hadn’t yet received any applications for chickens.