New Chicken Ordinance Meets Resistance at Town Council

By Chris Paul

A revised plan that would allow residents to raise chickens with less than two acres of land was met with some resistance at the Monday night Town Council meeting.
The result of the public hearing was the ordinance was tabled and will be discussed again on June 6.
Associate Planner Laura Gandia presented an amendment to the zoning ordinance relative to keeping poultry in an AR-1 District.
She told the council, the planning department has been working quite extensively with the planning board and the UNH Extension on developing a way for residents have poultry with less than the required amount of land.
The revision would allow people to have up to 12 chickens or six turkeys in lots from one to two acres in size and people with one half to one acre would be allowed six chickens and no turkeys.
It was also determined that lots under one half acre would not be allowed chickens.
The Planning Board gave a unanimous recommendation for the change.
A Pine Street resident spoke in favor of the changes, but had some issues with the requirement to keep the chickens enclosed. She felt there would be a benefit to have them out of their pens for tick and bug control.
A West Road resident was not I favor of the changes, saying that his neighbor has chickens and they are a nuisance. They are constantly in his yard and they make a mess.
He asked what his rights are when neighbors don’t manage their chickens properly.
Gandia responded that there is a provision in the ordinance on that subject and code enforcement should be contacted and they would help if they are creating a nuisance of any kind.
Councilor Jim Butler felt the enforcement mechanism in the ordinance was too weak and it should be “tightened up.”
Assistant Town Manager Lisa Drabik added that she didn’t feel tightening up the enforcement portion of the ordinance would benefit the town. She felt the way it is worded, gives code enforcement the ability to make a determination on whether the rules are being followed.
Butler and Council Chair John Farrell felt that they should be hearing from the Code Enforcement and Animal Control officers on the matter and decided to table the discussion until the June 6 meeting.

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