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February 20. 2014 11:44PM

Manchester chicken-keeping ordinance doesn’t come home to roost

MANCHESTER — Members of a committee of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are done with wrestling chickens, at least for a while.

The board’s administration committee this week effectively killed proposals that have been under consideration for more than a year to make the city’s rules for keeping chickens on one’s property less restrictive.

Right now, an acre is required to keep chickens. A draft ordinance from city planners that would have reduced the minimum yard size for the keeping of chickens to 7,500 square feet was placed on file by the Committee on Administration and Information Technology, effectively killing it.

Committee members were concerned that a lot of 7,500 square feet is simply too small to allow management of chickens without bothering the neighbors.

“Our biggest concerns are handling of the waste material and proper storage of the food supply in order to keep it from the rats,” said Tim Soucy, the city’s public health director.
 
 
“Some people I have talked to who have chickens like them very much,” said Ward 2 Alderman Ronald Ludwig. “Are we going to be able to come up with a blanket policy that is going to make the neighbor happy who is going to have people with chickens on either side?”
 
 
Other aldermen raised questions about whether an ordinance allowing chickens on lots of less than an acre would lead to some tenants of multi-family homes having a right to have chickens that are a nuisance to others living in the same building.

Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Roy suggested that residents who want chickens in their backyard be required to obtain a license.

“Each year, they would have to go down to get a license and the abutters can have their say,” Roy said.

Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw moved to ask the planning department to redraft the ordinance by increasing the minimum lot size, addressing the issue of whether chickens would be allowed in multi-family dwellings and whether to require licensing, but the committee rejected her suggestion and ultimately consigned it to the aldermanic scrap heap by voting to place the proposal on file.

wsmith@unionleader.com


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