EDITORIAL: Rotterdam Chicken Ordinance Addresses Concerns

The issues that many communities have with allowing residents to keep chickens on their properties center around space, odor, noise, predators and law enforcement.

A proposed new ordinance in Rotterdam that will allow residents to keep up to six chickens for private use adequately addresses most of these concerns.

Before voting on the ordinance tonight, city officials backing the idea will need to assure residents they can handle the last one — the app.

Backyard chickens have long been a contentious issue over obvious problems, many of which can be solved by requiring adequate space for chickens, banning roosters, requiring sufficient distance from surrounding properties to limit odor, requiring regular cleaning and ensuring the safety of chicken coops.

Local law 7 modifying the code of the city of Rotterdam addresses these questions.

First, under this ordinance, properties must be at least 9,000 square feet, or the equivalent of 95 feet by 95 square feet.

The ordinance requires a 25-foot setback from surrounding properties, with no cages built into front or side yards.

It requires chicken owners to have 4 square feet of space per animal and a coop of at least 10 square feet per bird. This meets standard recommendations of 3 to 4 feet of coop space per bird and 8 to 10 square feet of fenced outdoor space.

As far as noise goes, chickens cluck at around 60 decibels, which is about the level of human conversation. Roosters are the main noise concern. They cogitate at all hours and their song can reach 135 decibels, about the same level you’d hear 50 feet from a jet plane taking off. This ordinance prohibits roosters.

Another issue is security. Chickens attract the same predators that also prey on domestic animals. Their food and waste can also attract rodents and other vermin. This ordinance requires a structure and covered, well-ventilated, predator-resistant enclosures to prevent chickens from escaping.

The ordinance requires the cleaning of trash on a “sufficiently regular schedule,” at least once a week, to reduce odor and discourage rodents, pests and pests.

Owners would be required to obtain permits each year, and the building inspector would have to sign off on an inspection of the coop and enclosures. For those who violate the conditions, the city could revoke permits for up to two years. This should prevent irresponsible chicken owners from perpetually disturbing their neighbors.

And since there is no commercial incentive to keep the birds, responsible owners are likely to follow the law.

As written, the proposal appears to address the concerns of owners and neighbours.

If the city feels it has the staff and time to adequately enforce these very clear rules, it should allow the practice.

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Categories: Editorial, Opinion, rotterdam

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