Man With Illegal Chicken Coop Appeals to Board of Health
In another installment of the Chicken Chronicles, Jeffrey DelVecchio asks the board to amend an ordinance banning the keeping of chickens.
However, the chickens aren't flying the coop just yet — at least not without a fight. DelVecchio ardently believes that change can be affected through persistence and education.
That is why he attended the Board of Health meeting on Wednesday armed with information about the keeping of chickens, hoping to educate the board and to find out the reasoning behind their cursory denial of his request to amend the borough's 1968 ordinance prohibiting chickens. He also provided them with a copy of the signatures he has obtained through his on-line petition.
DelVecchio received a letter from the board on January 5th, notifying him of its decision to enforce an ordinance banning the keeping of chickens. The letter stated he had 45 days to remove the chickens from his backyard. The 45 days have passed and now, DelVecchio has been summoned to court.
He is scheduled to appear in municipal court on Wednesday.
"I want to be open and tell the board that I still have the chickens," DelVecchio said during the meeting.
"I have a court date next Wednesday, but I'm here to ask the board for their reasoning behind the decision to enforce the ordinance and not consider amending it."
Board President Marlene Slavin informed DelVecchio that board members had been advised they could not comment on the matter, because it was scheduled to be heard in municipal court. However, Slavin did allow DelVecchio to speak publicly on the matter.
"Under the current ordinance, homing pigeons are allowed," DelVecchio said. "Homing pigeons are allowed to fly free and leave their droppings everywhere. And they make a considerable amount of noise."
DelVecchio also said that he has had parrots as pets and they, too, are considerably louder than chickens.
"Under this ordinance it is legal to keep a goat; so, if the ordinance was intended to prevent farming animals, how can goats still be allowed, but chickens aren't?" DelVecchio asked.
DelVecchio provided the board with copies of Maplewood's ordinance for a pilot program designed to allow up to 15 households to raise as many as 3 hens for egg production for a one-year period.
"I hope that you take a look at this," DelVecchio said. "It's very informative."
Former councilman Peter Rebsch, who was in the audience, asked DelVecchio how the town could possibly monitor every person who decides to keep chickens cooped in their backyard to ensure sanitary conditions.
DelVecchio said that monitoring chickens would be little different than monitoring other pets, such as dogs and cats. He also suggested that the town require a permit fee of $100 so that only serious-minded people would apply.
"Even urban areas such as New York City allow chickens," DelVecchio informed the board.
After the meeting, DelVecchio told Patch he believes the ordinance should be updated to reflect the current sustainability movement.
"I'm disappointed that [the board] didn't have a meeting during the 45 days I was given to remove the chickens," he said.
"I wasn't even given a chance to find out the reason behind why they made their decision."
DelVecchio will be appearing before Judge Kevin Kelly in municipal court on Wednesday, March 14th.