Self-described "Chicken Outlaw" Jeff DelVecchio appeared before the mayor and council Monday to appeal the Board of Health's decision to enforce the borough's 1968 ordinance banning the keeping of chickens.
DelVecchio's appearance was to gain clarity about the extent of the Board of Health's powers and determine what recourse he has with the mayor and council to appeal their decision.
Borough Attorney, Mark Madaio, explained that the Board of Health is an autonomous board that writes and enforces its own ordinances without interference from the mayor and council.
Mayor Ann Subrizi explained that there are three bodies that oversee borough ordinances:
- Board of Health (Public Health ordinances)
- Zoning Board (Land Use ordinances)
- Mayor and Council (General ordinances)
Subrizi said that the mayor and council oversees the general ordinances and has no jurisdiction to amend Board of Health ordinances or override any of their decisions.
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 gave him 45 days to remove the chickens from his backyard. The 45 days passed and now DelVecchio has been summoned to court.
"I'm disappointed that [the board] didn't have a meeting during the 45 days I was given to remove the chickens," DelVecchio said. "I wasn't even given a chance to find out the reason behind why they made their decision."
According to DelVecchio, the borough's 44-year old ordinance needs to be amended to reflect the current sustainability movement.
"More towns are amending ordinances and moving toward sustainability while the New Milford Board of Health just said no without any explanation," DelVecchio said.
Councilwoman Randi Duffie, liason to the Board of Health, informed DelVecchio that the Board had agreed to discuss the possibility of re-considering amending the ordinance.
DelVecchio is scheduled to appear Wednesday in municipal court.