Wednesday, June 6 at 4:15 PM, is the next meeting of the New Milford Board of Health. It has been 3 months since I last met with the BOH. Since then, I have met with the Mayor and Council twice, appeared in municipal court where I was fined $539, and removed my chickens from my home where they are prohibited.
All this because on April 30, 2011 I brought home 6 one week old baby chicken hens to raise for the purpose of providing my family of 5 with fresh, healthy eggs. On September 24, 2011 I received a violation notice from the health department for violating the borough's ordinance prohibiting the keeping of poultry.
I told the health department I was going to try to get the ordinance changed and they said I could keep the chickens until the matter was resolved. I contacted the Mayor and Council about this and attended their meeting on November 14, 2011 where I was told this was a Board of Health issue and that there was nothing the M&C could do about it.
On November 15, I sent a letter to the Board explaining my situation and met with them at their December 12th meeting. I explained how raising chickens in my backyard was beneficial to my family, good for the environment, and did not present any health hazards. They told me they would review my case a get back to me with a decision.
On January 10, 2012, I received a letter from the Board denying my request to have the ordinance changed. The letter also stated that I had 45 days to remove the chickens. I sent a letter to the Baord on January 22 requesting an explaination. I never received a response. The 45 days elapsed and I did not remove the chickens resulting in the issuance of a summons to appear in municipal court.
I attended the March 7 meeting of the BOH and was told they could not speak to me about my case due to my upcoming court appearance. They did allow me to speak to them and I provided them with more information about backyard chickens and what other towns are doing.
I met with the M&C on March 12 to clarify that the BOH is an autonomous entity receiving no input or guidance from the governing body and they confirmed that.
I appeared in court on March 14 where the prosecutor threatened me with jail time and a $7000 fine. I agreed to accept a $1000 fine which the judge reduced to $539, including court costs, and I had to remove the chickens by March 20 or risk being fined $100 per day for each day they remained.
I removed the chickens on March 17, 2012. I sent a letter to the BOH on May 9 asking if they had made a decision and they never responded. I sent an e mail to every member of the governing body, I only received responses from 3 council members and the administrator. They all said there was nothing they could do. So I guess I will find out on Wednesday what the decision of the board will be.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and I will let you know the outcome of the meeting. I am sure it is not too late to contact the Borough, click here to do so, or call the Board of Health at 201-967-5044 x7075.
It is unfortunate that the meeting is so early because I am sure some of you would come out to show your support but how many people are available at 4:15 on a Wednesday afternoon? Nothing like making things convenient for the people you serve.