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Man With Illegal Chicken Coop Appeals to Board of Health

In another installment of the Chicken Chronicles, Jeffrey DelVecchio asks the board to amend an ordinance banning the keeping of chickens.

If the Board of Health's ordinance stands, Jeffrey DelVecchio will have to find a new home for Scrappy Coco, Fluffy 1, Fluffy 2 and his three other nameless, but just as beloved, chickens.

However, the chickens aren't flying the coop just yet — at least not without a fight. DelVecchio ardently believes that change can be affected through persistence and education.

That is why he attended the Board of Health meeting on Wednesday armed with information about the keeping of chickens, hoping to educate the board and to find out the reasoning behind their cursory denial of his request to amend the borough's 1968 ordinance prohibiting chickens. He also provided them with a copy of the signatures he has obtained through his on-line petition.

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 stated he had 45 days to remove the chickens from his backyard. The 45 days have passed and now, DelVecchio has been summoned to court.

He is scheduled to appear in municipal court on Wednesday.

"I want to be open and tell the board that I still have the chickens," DelVecchio said during the meeting.

"I have a court date next Wednesday, but I'm here to ask the board for their reasoning behind the decision to enforce the ordinance and not consider amending it."

Board President Marlene Slavin informed DelVecchio that board members had been advised they could not comment on the matter, because it was scheduled to be heard in municipal court. However, Slavin did allow DelVecchio to speak publicly on the matter.

"Under the current ordinance, homing pigeons are allowed," DelVecchio said. "Homing pigeons are allowed to fly free and leave their droppings everywhere. And they make a considerable amount of noise."

DelVecchio also said that he has had parrots as pets and they, too, are considerably louder than chickens.

"Under this ordinance it is legal to keep a goat; so, if the ordinance was intended to prevent farming animals, how can goats still be allowed, but chickens aren't?" DelVecchio asked.

DelVecchio provided the board with copies of Maplewood's ordinance for a pilot program designed to allow up to 15 households to raise as many as 3 hens for egg production for a one-year period.

"I hope that you take a look at this," DelVecchio said. "It's very informative." 

Former councilman Peter Rebsch, who was in the audience, asked DelVecchio how the town could possibly monitor every person who decides to keep chickens cooped in their backyard to ensure sanitary conditions.

DelVecchio said that monitoring chickens would be little different than monitoring other pets, such as dogs and cats. He also suggested that the town require a permit fee of $100 so that only serious-minded people would apply. 

"Even urban areas such as New York City allow chickens," DelVecchio informed the board. 

After the meeting, DelVecchio told Patch he believes the ordinance should be updated to reflect the current sustainability movement. 

"I'm disappointed that [the board] didn't have a meeting during the 45 days I was given to remove the chickens," he said.

"I wasn't even given a chance to find out the reason behind why they made their decision."

DelVecchio will be appearing before Judge Kevin Kelly in municipal court on Wednesday, March 14th. 

Jeffrey DelVecchio March 13, 2012 at 03:47 PM
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.
james March 13, 2012 at 11:15 PM
denise it's a mean world when you have to watch what you do because of your neighbors, but your correct. what happened to live and let live, guess that died
Denise March 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM
James- I'm too stubborn to let neighbors rule my life. As long as there is a law in New Milford that allows the keeping of goat(s), by golly if you have the wherewithall to raise it (land, feed, veteranary bills, etc. I would get one just to tick off my neighbors...LOL!!!
Arlene M. Baladi March 13, 2012 at 11:57 PM
We need to get that ordinance changed now...Joan LaPage at the BOH wouldn't even speak to me about doing that!
Kim Hunter March 14, 2012 at 02:07 AM
So you can't have chickens, but you can have homing pigeons. You can't keep chickens, but with a $5 permit, you can kill them!?!?!? You can have small animal in a shelter (Including homing pigeons) as long as you have their enclosures inspected....and they have to be pets... So maybe not egg laying chickens, but pet chickens? Oh Yeah - you can keep and slaughter a horse with the right permit! BH:5-1.2 Keeping Pigeons and Certain Small Animals Prohibited. No person shall keep, raise, breed or sell any pigeons (homing pigeons excepted), rabbits, guinea pigs, hares or similar animals in the Borough, except those kept as pets for recreational purposes. (1968 Code §74-13; New) BH:5-1.3 Shelters for Small Animals; Cleaning and Inspection. All small animals shall be kept in a suitable shelter; such shelter must be kept thoroughly clean at all times and open to inspection at all times by the Board or its inspectors; the shelter shall be cleaned at least once a week and more often if the Board or its inspectors shall so require. (1968 Code §74-14) BH:5-1.4 Slaughtering Permit for Poultry and Small Animals; Duration and Fee. a. No person shall engage in the business of slaughtering, killing or dressing poultry or small animals in the Borough without obtaining a permit from the Board for that purpose, which permit shall expire on December 31. b. The permit may be granted by the Board upon payment of a fee of five ($5.00) dollars.

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