Chickens, then the eggs

The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission seems slow to accept one appealing part of the powerful slow food movement, people who want yard-fresh eggs as part of a healthy and local diet.

Communities around the county have eased stodgy old zoning rules pertaining to chickens in residential neighborhoods. Even Brooklyn, N.Y., allows city dwellers to have a coop.

This week, East Lyme became yet another community that has relaxed zoning rules for people who want to raise some egg-laying hens.

Some Stonington zoning commissioners, who have continued a public hearing on the issue, seem a bit reluctant about the idea of allowing chickens on any but the largest, estate-sized lots.

Towns should certainly consider responsible rules about chickens, which could be restricted in number and to areas of the property away from property lines. But the alarms sounded in the first part of a Stonington public hearing, about issues like "chicken escapes," don't seem that worrisome.

We liked the advice of letter writers from a class at Stonington High School, which, after a presentation on home chickens, wrote letters to the zoning board. Of 48 letters, 41 were in favor.

"We have lived alongside chickens for thousands of years. I see no reason to disown chickens now," one of the students wrote.

Some noted other positives, like creating a local and sustainable food source. One said chickens are "cool." And local chickens, some said, are the best chickens.

"Chickens raised by responsible owners are much healthier and happier than factory chickens," said one letter writer.

The commissioners should pay attention to the students. They are the future.

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