Judge rules pet chickens in violation of town code
For a group of chickens in Niskayuna, a new home will need to be found as the coop was ruled to be in violation of the town code.
Judge Stephen Swinton Jr. ruled on Monday, Jan. 3, in Niskayuna Town Court that John Helm was violating sections 220-4 and 220-10D of the town code and fined Helm $20 dollars for every day since the notice was issued in early June, which totals almost $4,000. Swinton said if the chickens were removed from the property within 72 hours he would entertain a motion to reduce the fine. The Court could've fined Helm $500 for every day the chickens were on the property.
As long as I have been here, I have not come across this, said Town Attorney Peter Scagnelli, who said the town has employed him for 10 years. "There have been other people that have chickens on property and code enforcement said you could not do this and it was resolved before court action."
John Helm said he wasn't pleased with the outcome of the case, but he complied with the judge's decision and removed the chickens from the property on Tuesday, Jan. 4. The chickens were brought to Quarter-Acre Rescue Ranch in Johnsonville as the legal battle continues.
"We are extremely disappointed. I feel that it is no longer a case of chickens," said Helm. "It was a pretty sad moment and we are planning on an appeal."
Section 220-4 of Niskayuna's Town Code, which Helm was found to be in violation, is definitions. The town defines 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. It includes necessary farm structures within the prescribed limits and the storage of equipment used."