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November 18. 2012 7:56PM

Proposal would allow hens, not roosters, on large Manchester lots

MANCHESTER - City code officials have proposed allowing as many as six chickens in residential lots in the the city, according to a draft ordinance that could go before a committee of aldermen this week.

Chickens would be allowed in all residential zones of the city under the Keeping Chickens as Pets Ordinance. But the proposed minimum lot size for keeping chickens is 7,500 square feet, and they would be allowed only on lots occuppied by a single-family home. The standard-sized lot in the center city is 5,000 square feet.

Max Sink, deputy director of planning and community development, said the draft ordinance was written after city officials examined ordinances in Dover, Concord, Bedford, Derry, Nashua, Portsmouth and cities outside New Hampshire.

"We took what we thought would work best for Manchester," Sink said.

The draft comes a month after regulators rejected two requests to keep chickens from city residents. The current city ordinance defines all chickens as livestock and allows them only in rural areas on lots of an acre or more.

The draft has been submitted to the Committee on Administration and Information Systems, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday evening. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will eventually have to pass the proposal before it goes on the books.

The proposal would prohibit roosters in the residential zones, and it gives specifications for henhouses. The houses can't be placed on pavement or blacktop, they can't be built with scrap material, they must be 20 feet from the property line and they must provide protection from the elements and other animals.

The proposal includes restrictions on manure composting and handling. Also, egg sales, commerical breeding and slaughtering would be prohibited.

Sink said the Health Department reviewed the ordinance and made suggestions for odor control.

"I'm sure we'll be able to handle it," he said about chicken regulations. "I don't think there'll be this huge wave of people wanting to raise chickens."

mhayward@unionleader.com


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