Nisky chicks ruffle town's feathers

Town claims pet chickens a violation of town code

The Town of Niskayuna is taking exception with a Hillside Avenue family keeping chickens as pets, claiming the birds run afoul of town code.

On June 4, Town Building Inspector Thomas Cannizzo visited the residence of Brenda and John Helm on Hillside Avenue in Niskayuna, finding chickens on the property. The Helm's were then mailed a notification of their violation, which determined they could not have the chickens since they were not as a recognized farm in the town of Niskayuna. Also, they couldn't apply to be a farm because their property resides in an area zoned for High-Density Residential.

Niskayuna's Town Code defines a farm as any lot containing at least one acre which is used for gain in the production or raising of agricultural products, livestock, poultry and dairy products.

The Helms argue they are not using the chickens for any sort of gain and they just enjoy having the chickens as pets. Eggs produced by the chickens are not sold and John said he didn't think they would be able to get a return on their investment. He estimated the chickens and coop they built outside their home totals a $2,000 investment.

"We get about nine to 11 eggs a day," said Brenda. "We give them to our neighbors."

The Helms neighbors on the side of the property facing the chicken coop are Amy LaMena and her husband. Until 8 p.m., a flood style light is positioned facing the Helm's property shining on the chickens, but LaMena said the light has never bothered her.

"We are the people most affected by the poultry here and we love them," said LeMena. "Leo's bedroom is on that side of the house, but if we could ever pin him in his bed before 8 it would be a bloody miracle."

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