Board adopts law that reg­u­lates chicken own­er­ship

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

TOWN OF UL­STER >> The Town Board has voted to reg­u­late the own­er­ship of chick­ens in Ul­ster’s R10 and R30 res­i­den­tial zon­ing dis­tricts.

The 4-0 ap­proval came af­ter a pub­lic hear­ing Thurs­day. Coun­cil­man Eric Kitchen was ab­sent.

The hear­ing at­tracted three chicken own­ers and a chicken sup­porter in op­po­si­tion to the law, while sup­port for reg­u­la­tions came from a fa­ther and son who live next door to a prop­erty where birds are kept.

Chicken owner Frank Ritti was among ar­dent op­po­nents of the law, con­tend­ing the Town Board was try­ing to change a long­stand­ing life­style.

“Many peo­ple use these live­stock as food and bar­ter­ing com­modi­ties,” he said. “Re­cently, there has been an in­flux of peo­ple mov­ing into the area who don’t like this type of life. ... We shouldn’t change the en­tire way of life for peo­ple who did grow up in these ar­eas and deny them the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy and ben­e­fit from the home­steading of which many of us count on for a source of liveli­hood.”

Ritti said the reg­u­la­tion would re­quire chicken own­ers to have a per­mit for food that they are mak­ing for them­selves.

A per­mit, at no cost, will be re­quired to own chick­ens. Roost­ers are pro­hib­ited, ex­cept for those cur­rently owned within the dis­tricts.

Res­i­dent David Lo­mas­ney has been requesting a law be adopted for most of the year af­ter his 3-year-old son was di­ag­nosed with an in­fec­tion be­lieved to have been caused by bird fe­ces. He con­tends the ill­ness was brought on by chick­ens that came near his house from his neigh­bor’s prop­erty.

“I came from a fam­ily that had chick­ens,” he said. “We didn’t let the chick­ens roam free. We took care of the chick­ens, they were in pens, it was a lot of work. Chick­ens are a lot of work and, if peo­ple are tak­ing care of their chick­ens and han­dling their busi­ness, there’s no prob­lems.”

The reg­u­la­tions call for chick­ens to be kept in a pen or en­clo­sure at all times, stat­ing: “The pen must be re­sis­tant to ro­dents and to preda­tors and pro­vide chick­ens with ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion from in­clement wether. The pen or en­clo­sure is to be con­structed of ma­te­ri­als that are rea­son­able com­ple­men­tary to ex­ist­ing struc­tures within the view­shed of the pen or en­clo­sure in or­der to fore­stall com­plaints by neigh­bors or per­sons within the view­ing vicin­ity.”

Ef­forts to adopt a law gov­ern­ing own­er­ship of chick­ens be­gan last year af­ter res­i­dents in the Ul­ster ham­let of East Kingston com­plained about birds com­ing onto their prop­erty. The Town Board de­clined to act at that time, af­ter hear­ing ob­jec­tions from chicken own­ers, but new com­plaints in a dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hood brought the is­sue back for a se­cond pub­lic hear­ing with a ver­sion of the law that in­cluded per­mit fees.

Ul­ster of­fi­cials said the ver­sion hat was sub­ject to the third pub­lic hear­ing and, then, adopted was drafted from state law in an ef­fort to make it less vul­ner­a­ble to le­gal chal­lenges.

Town Su­per­vi­sor James Quigley said the law was needed be­cause neigh­bors have been un­able to re­solve their dif­fer­ences.

“The town [couldn’t] do any­thing other than to show up at your house and ask you po­litely to keep your chick­ens in your yard,” he said. “That is what this law is de­signed to try to ad­dress ... to give the town some au­thor­ity over chick­ens so that, when we show up be­cause your chick­ens are loose ...there will be an obli­ga­tion on your part to com­ply.”

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