Resident Pecks at Scrambling Hopatcong Chicken Law
Chicken-raising sought by new resident; asks council to amend town's laws.
It’s not so much which came first, the chicken or the egg, but whether it was the chicken ordinance or the anti-chicken ordinance.
A new borough resident asked the Hopatcong Borough Council Wednesday to scramble the rules to allow he and his wife to raise three chickens on their residential property.
Chicken raising is not a permitted use under current borough zoning rules.
Jim Chaffee said he and his wife would like to be able to raise the chickens so they can use the eggs. They are trying to become more self-sufficient, he said.
“We want to stop eating store-bought eggs because they contain antibiotics and human growth hormone,” Chaffee said.
In the past, during hard times, governments encouraged residents to raise chickens, he said.
He asked the council to consider passing an ordinance that would allow a resident to raise up to three chickens on a one-tenth acre lot.
Chaffee said chickens squawk at 63 decibels, a volume level that can not be heard more than 25 feet away. A dog’s bark, for example, registers at 700 decibels. The chickens would have shelter and clean up would be done frequently.
He said Roxbury amended its ordinances to allow residents to raise pet chickens on their properties.
In May 2012, the Roxbury Township Council amended local rules to allow up to three chickens to be kept on a residential lot no smaller than 7,500 square feet. The rules require proper shelter and setback requirements from neighbor’s property.
The amendment was made after three sisters, all 4-H members, sought the changes.
The Roxbury ordinance also provides that 4-H members may keep chickens, even if their property is undersized.
Resident Barbara Loring cautioned that improper clean up of the chicken droppings could have an impact on Lake Hopatcong, the borough’s most important asset.
Resident Mara Modes was also concerned about changing ordinances to allow chickens on residential properties, saying, “Bears eat chickens.”
The council thanked Chaffee for his suggestion and no further action was taken at the meeting.