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Micro-farming initiative moves forward

Siena College professor and Niskayuna resident support effort

There seems to be more than one resident interested in keeping chickens on their property in Niskayuna.

John and Brenda Helm, the couple involved with efforts to allow them to keep chickens on their property, on Friday, Feb. 18, held an informational and planning meeting at Niskayuna Town Hall on the R3 Residential Zoning Districts micro-farming initiative they've started recently. John Helm said the meeting was to address any questions or concerns people had about the plan and to gather together supporters of the initiative. While by the end of the meeting there was about a dozen people present, John Helm still viewed the meeting as positive since he was able to reach out to new members in the community.

Ideally we would never have to go through to the extent of actually having the town code changed it is a very long drawn out process, said Brenda Helm at the start of the meeting. "Ideally what we would like is for them to tighten up what is already there to allow the rights that we currently enjoy and to protect those."

Brenda Helm recently drafted proposed changes to the town code to allow chickens in the high-density residential zoning. John Helm is currently appealing a Town Court decision ruling the couple was in violation of the town code. Although the Court recently reduced the fine to $380, according to John Helm, he is still going to be appealing the decision since he believes he was not in violation of the town code.

Due to the pending litigation Town Supervisor Joe Landry said the effort to create the micro-farming town code amendment wouldn't be addressed by the town until a decision is reached through Helm's appeal. The Helms have previously stated they view their micro-farming initiative separate from their pending litigation and want to address them as separate matters.

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