ROTTERDAM — Residents can now legally own chickens in town.
The Town Board on Wednesday, in a 4-0 vote, approved an ordinance allowing residents in single-family homes with at least 9,000 square feet of lot space to own up to six egg-laying hens after receiving a permit. Board member Samantha Miller-Herrera was not in attendance for the meeting.
“We did our due diligence on it,” said Deputy Supervisor Jack Dodson following the vote. “We did what I thought we should do as the government in that the public should be bringing us issues that need to be resolved in our community.”
Chickens were previously prohibited in town, but residents frequently maintained the animals without any regulations in place.
Residents in recent weeks have pushed lawmakers to adopt regulations, but others have expressed concerns about the ordinance since it was first introduced last month, arguing enforcement would be an issue and the animals will create burdensome noise and odors and attract wildlife seeking to feed on the fowl.
In September, the town’s Planning Commission, in a 4-3 vote, issued a negative opinion on the law, saying that chickens were not appropriate for the town’s suburban setting and would lead to code enforcement issues.
But board member Evan Christou said he “enthusiastically” supported the law, noting he viewed backyard chickens as a way to engage children and teach them lessons relating to responsibility.
“In my opinion, I think people — especially with our younger children — anything that will get them out into the open air learning how to tend to the animals, learning how to roll up their sleeves and set up a chicken coop, clean up a chicken coop and retrieve fresh eggs and is an hour or two maybe a day, where they don’t have that electronic device in their hands,” Christou said. “I think is very welcome and a wonderful idea.”
The law mirrors legislation already in place in neighboring Niskayuna and Colonie, and requires the chickens to be kept in a “well-ventilated predator resistant structure” with a minimum of 4 square feet of space per animal along with a chicken run of at least 10 square feet per hen. Roosters are prohibited.
Enclosures are only permitted in backyards and must be located at least 25 feet from any property line, according to the law, which would be enforced by the town’s Codes Department.
Those found in violation could have their permits revoked for two years, though the law does allow for residents to file an appeal.
Audience members erupted in cheers following the vote.
After the meeting, Denise Lagasse and her son Jake said allowing residents to keep chickens was the right move, saying that some concerns relating to maintaining backyard chickens were overblown.
The animals, they said, offer a number of benefits.
The family has maintained chickens for nine years, but has recently been urging the Town Board to adopt a local ordinance to regulate the animals after someone filed a complaint about the animals recently.
“I was ecstatic for just being able to own chickens legally instead of being under the public eye as breaking the law,” Jake Lagasse said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.