Stonington's CLUC*K pushing for change in chicken-oriented zoning rules

Stonington - Chicken Lovers Urge Change (CLUC*K), a small group of residents who want to amend the town's zoning regulations so homeowners can raise up to six chickens on lots of 20,000 square feet, are proceeding with its plan despite a setback last week.

That's when the Board of Selectmen denied a request from Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens, a New London-based nonprofit organization representing CLUC*K, to have the $560 zoning application fee waived.

Peg Moran, one of the principals in CLUC*K, said Tuesday that the group will continue to raise funds for the fees so it can submit an application for the zoning text amendment. She said the group will also be approaching businesses that may profit from having an increased number of chickens in Stonington as well as identifying other nonprofit organizations that may want to back its cause.

Currently, zoning regulations only permit chickens to be raised on lots of more than 3 acres and limits residents to just two chickens.

The two organizations have said the change will help improve food security and nutrition in the region. For residents worried about sleep, no raising of roosters is proposed.

When CLUC*K did not have the $560 fee the town charges for zoning text applications, it teamed up with Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens and requested the fee waiver from the Board of Selectmen.

In the past, the town has granted fee waivers to local nonprofit groups that benefit residents such as Little League and the Boy Scouts, according to Town Attorney Thomas Londregan.

But in an opinion he prepared for the selectmen, Londregan wrote that the group now seeking the fee waiver is technically not a nonprofit organization but "more importantly seems to be centered on a mission that benefits themselves and not necessarily the town and its citizens as a whole."

He said the waiver request does not fit with the selectmen's past practice to waive fees. CLUC*K, which does not have nonprofit status, partnered with ECCG because it does have that status.

Londregan added that past practice has been to waive fees for building permits or specific uses allowed by the regulations, but the CLUC*K request is to change the text of the zoning regulations.

In a letter to selectmen this week, Moran pointed out that ECCG is a nonprofit organization and objected to Londregan's contention that the two groups are centered on a mission that benefits themselves and not the town and its citizens.

She said the current regulation prohibits local families from accessing an important food source - locally grown eggs.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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