Chicken Outlaw Appeals To Mayor And Council

Jeff DelVecchio appears before mayor and council to appeal Board of Health's 1968 ordinance banning chickens.

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.

Ron McClellan March 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I would recommend looking at the Ordinances that authorize general enforcement powers for the board of health. Where is this power derived from, and under what standards must be met for them to prohibit, mandate, or enforce any regulation. They might have a problem factually/scientifically supporting their restriction, and if such is the case . . .well . . .it might be worth looking into.
Jennifer March 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I am interested why people have voted "no" on this. My husband and I, as well as some neighbors of ours, take this seriously and have written the town.
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 13, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Jennifer, Do you mean "no" as in opposed to chickens? The poll is kind of backwards. A vote of "no" is a vote in support of the chickens.
Denise March 14, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Hey Jeff! Where can I get a shirt like yours?! LOL!
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 14, 2012 at 12:07 AM
This is where I got the shirt: http://www.customeggcartonlabels.com/CHICKEN-MERCHANDISE_c7.htm
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 14, 2012 at 12:29 AM
If you support this cause please contact the New Milford Board of Health and let them know how you feel. They are the only ones who can change the ordinance. Thank you to those who have already.
Big Ben March 14, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Raise geese! Their eggs are bigger and the BOH doesn't care that they crap all over town.
Victor Alfieri March 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Great job Jeff......The town is wrong.....just keep fighting. http://www.woodlotfarms.com/
Victor Alfieri March 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Raising backyard chickens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1vJI8k_lQ4
Victor Alfieri March 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM
NO city, town, or person has the right to tell you, you can't raise a chicken hen. While in these same towns, owning and raising dogs is legal. 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the USA, mostly children on the face. In the U.S. in the last 10 years there has been over 1,500 mailings and over 250 people have been killed by dogs. 16.6% of people attacked by dogs perish from there injuries. Chickens are not the problem. http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/stop-animal-abuse/fact-sheets/dog-bites.html
Ron McClellan March 14, 2012 at 01:41 PM
One thing I'm pretty sure of is there is virtually no reason your City can't draft an ordinance allowing chickens. What is the specific language and citation number of the ordinance or rule that is being applied against you? Hope it went well in court today. I would give serious consideration to looking into the Constitutional aspects here, it is an unsupportable infringement on your right to liberty and the quiet enjoyment of your premises and property.
Arlene M. Baladi March 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
CHANGE the ordinance NOW!
LMA March 14, 2012 at 05:13 PM
This will open up a pandora's box if this person is allowed to keep chickens. Why then not allow farm animals such as cows and goats. One could argue that one wants to have fresh milk and make cheese. Let's see if all of those who see nothing wrong with having chickens would like the sound of a goat or cow coming from their next door neighbor. One must look at the bigger picture, I cannot beleive that this homeowner is so adament....go move to another town that allows this... Also, I would like to see if the folks who see nothing wrong with having chickens would like the stench emanating into their backyards on a hot summer day ....and of course, the animals do have an odor...who are we kidding?
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 14, 2012 at 05:24 PM
First, cows and goats are not prohibited. Second, nobody ever said there is no odor. I have had many people come to my home in the heat of the summer and all have commented about how there is very little odor. I can assure you there is no odor discernible from my neighbor's yards. And as far as moving goes, if you don't like what I am doing, why don't you move?
Victor Alfieri March 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Comparing a 2 pound chicken hen to a cow or goat is just silly. That is why hens work perfect on smaller properties. AML you must look at the bigger picture. The second you start raising chicken hens you lower your families carbon footprint. The practice of urban homesteading and raising chicken hens has a POSITIVE effect on the local environment.
Ron McClellan March 14, 2012 at 05:40 PM
AML, The "Pandoras Box" theory is a myth. For starters what Jeffrey said above. Further . . .there is a rather significant difference between a 7 pound chicken and a 1000+ pound. One must look at the bigger picture. I have over 70 birds, and there is no "stench" . . .at all. If for some reason an irresponsible homeowner was keeping in a manner that created "Stench" it could be dealt with via general ordinances that would also be applied to ANY situation creating a stench, like someone piling garbage on their porch or whatever. Ya simply do NOT restrict peoples liberty based on myths and misconceptions, or even what could happen. Folks COULD drive recklessly too, but ya don't deny everyone the right based on what a few might do. THIS is the "bigger picture."
james March 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Can we raise quail? Quail eggs are all the rage on the food cooking shows. Seriously, let the man have his few chickens. As someone said if the stench were to get bad there are ordinances for that.
Ron McClellan March 14, 2012 at 07:53 PM
In many locations, you would still need three acres or even five to raise even a single five ounce quail. And Bizarrely . . .there are officials who would argue against you and be able to keep a straight face while doing it, heheh.
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 14, 2012 at 08:07 PM
By definition, quail are poultry so you cannot have them here.
Denise March 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM
AML-YOU think about it....If someone in New Milford wanted to have cows and goats wouldn't you think that that person would have to have some kind of acreage to sustain the animals...moving around, grazing etc. We are talking chickens here that take up little space. Have you not seen the picture that Mr. DelVecchio posted of the chicken house where they are kept??? If I'm not mistaken it looks as though the house is flush with his own home. Do you think he would place it that close to his own house if there was such a FILTHY STENCH as you call it???


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