The state law defines farm animals as "any ungulate, poultry, species of cattle, sheep, swine, oats, llamas, horses or fur-bearing animals, as defined in section 11-1907 of the environmental conservation law, which are raised for commercial or subsistence purposes."
Helm didn't persuade the court his chickens weren't farm animals and were pets, said Drago in her decision, and he failed to prove the Town Court erred in its decision.
Brenda Helm said the couple is planning to appeal Drago's decision.
Petitioning for micro-farming
Unaware of the court's decision, Brenda Helm presented the Niskayuna Town Board with a petition she said had 125 signatures from town residents in support of her micro-farming initiative on Tuesday, June 28. Also included were an additional 100 signatures from people outside of the town.
Brenda Helm, with the help of her attorney, Jennifer Storm, drafted changes to chapters 81, 142, and 220 of the town code that would allow poultry and fowl, along with micro-farming, within R3 Residential Districts. The new farm type would only allow for personal gardens and keeping of permitted animals for the production of food for use of residents of a single-dwelling home. Animal housing and structures would need to confirm to the newly added section addressing such regulations.
"All these signatures were just kind of collected without too much effort," said Brenda Helm. "For the most part people found us " that is a huge statement."
Months ago, when the snow was still falling, John Helm said he would return to the board in June with signatures collected for micro-farming cause.
Town Supervisor Joe Landry said he would look at the petition and the court's decision and see how the town is going to approach it in the future.
"There are places in town you can have animals, livestock, farm animals. We are a town that provides that opportunity," said Landry. "We provided her [Brenda Helm] an opportunity to go in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals and get a variance, and she refuses to do that so I feel we provided her ample opportunity to try and work within the rules of the town."