Clucking about hens is all over

07/22/2010 12:00 AM |

Greenport Trustee Michael Osinski has withdrawn his proposal to allow every villager to keep up to 20 chickens — no roosters. Bowing to public pressure that came at a June hearing from residents, Mr. Osinski acknowledged Monday night that he didn’t have the votes to pass the measure.

At the same time, he noted, nothing in the village code prohibits keeping chickens.

In May, Mr. Osinski told the board his children had asked about keeping chickens, and pointed out that some people in the village have them. At the time, he thought limits on pets would prohibit chickens. As a village trustee, he didn’t want to be breaking the law by letting his kids keep them — so he proposed the code amendment.

He has since learned that chickens aren’t considered pets, so the code that limits their numbers doesn’t apply. The village code is silent about chickens, leaving it to neighbors to resolve any disputes about noise, smells or other problems, with the village interceding if neighbors are unable to work out their differences.

With the exception of one couple who raise chickens on their property in the village and a neighbor who made deviled eggs for the board, speakers at the June hearing shared horror stories about their experiences with chickens. Those without personal experiences worried about what might happen to their peaceful existences if their neighbors were allowed to keep chickens. They envisioned noise, smells and vermin.

Had the village approved the proposal, Mr. Osinski said, it would have had to assume responsibility for enforcement and that could have been burdensome for its already stressed code enforcement team.

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