Stonington group's application to raise chicken issue

Stonington - A Pawcatuck woman who is a principal in Chicken Lovers Urge Change (CLUC*K), has filed an application to change the town's zoning regulations so residents can raise six hens, or two hens per household member on residential properties.

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

Peg Moran filed the application on Tuesday, and a public hearing is expected next month. She said two hens provide enough eggs to feed a person for a year.

"In our opinion, the keeping of small flocks of chickens - like having a vegetable garden or orchard - assures town residents a supply of high-quality fresh nutrient rich food. In return chickens eat insects (including ticks), provide fertilizer and offer companionship and even entertainment," the group wrote in the statement that accompanies its application.

It pointed out that the state recommendations for zoning regulations for livestock last year observed there has been a growing interest in backyard farming in urban and suburban areas, which include protein-producing sources, such as hens for fresh eggs. It also wrote that keeping chickens is part of the town farming heritage.

"Many see the surge in chicken keeping as a return to our roots and an appreciation of how food is grown. More and more, consumers want control over the quality of their food and where it comes from," the group wrote.

It added that the proposed zoning amendment is molded after ones in effect in Hamden and New Haven, which are among a fast-growing number of communities that have changed regulations to accommodate chickens. CLUC*K's proposal would only apply to hens, not roosters.

It would require anyone who has hens to keep them in a fenced enclosure in a rear or side yard with 16 square feet of space per hen. A coop with 4 square feet of space per hen is also required. It must be built and kept to prevent odors and the presence of pests and predators.

CLUC*K had tried to get the town to waive its $560 application fee but was unsuccessful because it does not yet have nonprofit status, and town officials rejected its effort to seek the waiver by teaming up with Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens, a New London-based nonprofit.

Moran said CLUC*K raised the money thanks to donations from businesses such as Fleming's Feed and Hardware, Stonington Feed, Agway and Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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