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Fowl request spurs discontent

Guilderland man seeks OK for chicken coop; zoning code revisions expected

Dale Owen discusses his proposal to keep chickens on his property at the Guilderland ZBA meeting March 5.

Dale Owen discusses his proposal to keep chickens on his property at the Guilderland ZBA meeting March 5. Photo by John Purcell.

— Guilderland’s zoning law may be silent on whether chickens are allowed in residential areas, but neighbors of one man requesting to raise the birds weren’t.

The Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, March 5, took up its third request since 2011 for a “keeping of chickens application,” with Dale Owen seeking permission to keep chickens outdoors on his property at 140 Mohawk Drive. Board Chairman Peter Barber said the zoning code does not permit or ban the chickens in residential areas. Owen is proposing to keep up to 10 laying hens outside his home, and he said he is flexible as to where the coop would be built.

Unlike prior requests to keep chickens in town, both of which were granted, several neighbors of Owen appeared at the meeting in opposition to his plan.

Barber recused himself from discussions and casting a vote on the application, because he lives near Owen. Board member Thomas Remmert is acting as chairman for the application.

After the meeting, Barber discussed the previous chicken requests before the town.

“One time, half a dozen or more people showed up, and all spoke in favor. In fact, enthusiastically in favor,” Barber said. “The other one, there were petitions signed by dozens and dozens of people. A good number showed up and one person opposed it, but I think they lived a street or two away.”

Owen, who has four children, said his family grows “a substantial amount” of their vegetables and most of his family is vegetarian, so they go through “a ton” of eggs. He said keeping chickens is also an opportunity to teach his children responsibility.

“It is consistent with the residential character of the neighborhood,” Owen said. “There would be minimal disturbance to the adjacent properties … and any remedies for disturbances would be no different than a nuisance dog or a cat that is getting into your garden.”

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