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Nugget of hope for chicken enthusiasts

Guilderland ZBA’s prior rulings could create pathway for fowl pets

Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Peter Barber, right, listens to Janet Thayer, attorney for the ZBA, explain how the board’s prior decisions on keeping chickens likely set a precedent.

Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Peter Barber, right, listens to Janet Thayer, attorney for the ZBA, explain how the board’s prior decisions on keeping chickens likely set a precedent. Photo by John Purcell.

— Chickens could become a less public proposal in Guilderland if zoning board members determine past rulings set a precedent, despite prior claims against such ever being set.

The Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals did not have to wait long for another request for interpretation to keep laying hens to come before it again. Two separate homeowners were at the ZBA meeting Wednesday, June 18, but next week board members will determine whether anyone living on a residential zoned property even have to ask permission. All it might take is a simple building permit for the chicken coop.

Laura and Dan Spanbauer, of 3016 Morgan Court, were requesting to keep up to six chickens in their property. Lisa Alonzi, of 3093 New Williamsburg Drive, was looking to up to 12 chickens. Both live within a single-family zone.

Laura Spanbauer said she was aware of the controversy surrounding the keeping of chickens in the town.

“I was getting fresh eggs from a friend for a while, and then I decided to kind of start this endeavor. And when I Googled it, I saw that there was a lot going on in Guilderland about it,” Spanbauer said.

The board most recently denied Dale Owen’s request to keep chickens at his Mohawk Drive home, but approved two prior requests.

A difference between Owen’s request and the two previously approved was in earlier cases, the chickens were already on the property. Many of Owen’s neighbors spoke out against him keeping chickens, which was also different from the other two requests.

Zoning board member Thomas Remmert, who acted as chairman for Owen’s application, had repeatedly stressed past and current decisions did not set a precedent.

ZBA Chairman Peter Barber revealed Wednesday past decisions might have done exactly that — establishing a baseline for what is allowable, at least until the Town Board weighs in on it.

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