Hatching plans

Bethlehem Scout wants to raise chickens as pets; needs site plan approval

— Dogs and rabbits are common outdoor pets, but Delmar residents may soon be able to raise friends of the featured nature in their backyard.

Luke Manley, of 25 Parkwyn Drive, has asked the town’s Planning Board for site plan approval to raise chickens as pets. Approval is being sought in part so he can earn a merit badge with the Boy Scouts.

“For the past few years, I’ve been going to Barn School,” said the youth of his experience at Indian Ladder Farms. “One of the things we used to do is clean out the chicken coops and stuff like that, and I don’t know, I just really started liking the chickens.”

Manley then began learning how to take care of the chickens because he wanted to keep some.

The initial presentation on the proposal was given to the Planning Board on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The concept was first brought to Planning Department staff in October.

Raising chickens is considered “agricultural use” and is permitted by the town’s zoning board as long as site plan approval is obtained from the Planning Board. The decision would not change the rules for keeping chickens within the town, but would allow the pets only to be kept by the applicant.

Since this is the first time anyone has applied to keep chickens as pets within a residentially zoned area, planning staff requested the best management practices for keeping chickens that have been compiled from towns around the state and country. Some recommendations include not allowing the sale of chickens or eggs, capping the number of chickens allowed on the property at four, not allowing the slaughter of chickens on the property and pasturing the chickens.

Planning Board Counsel Michael Moore said he felt if more residents were to apply for site plan approvals to raise chickens, the zoning board may want to eventually use the recommendations to officially put language in the town code for raising fowl. That would better allow code enforcement to take action if a problem were to occur when caring for the chickens.

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