Hen-raising proposal for Stonington may still hatch

Stonington - After rejecting a zoning amendment proposal last week that would have allowed hens to be raised in residential areas, the Planning and Zoning Commission will now work with the group that proposed the idea to come up with an acceptable plan.

Commission Chairman Rob Marseglia said that the commission rejected the proposal by the local group Chicken Lovers Urge Change because it had concerns about language involving lot size, setbacks, the number of chickens and other issues.

Marseglia said that Town Planner Keith Brynes will work with Peg Moran and other members of CLUC*K to refine the proposal and then hold a workshop to discuss any outstanding issues.

He said the commission will submit the new application so CLUC*K does not have to pay another application fee. He said the commission will also investigate whether an ordinance is also needed to implement the plan.

Earlier this month the East Lyme Zoning Commission changed its regulations to allow residents in certain areas of town to raise a small number of hens without a special permit. Marseglia said the commission will look at those regulations when crafting the plan here.

At a public hearing on the CLUC*K plan to allow households to raise up to six hens in residential areas, commissioners and residents raised concerns about odor, chicken escapes, insufficient setbacks and impact on property values.

While town regulations technically allow dogs, cats, fowl and other animals compatible with human habitation, the town has been guided in recent years by a legal opinion that states hens are not compatible with human habitation and are classified as grazing animals and thus restricted to lots of at least 130,000 square feet.

The change would allow hens on all lots in the zones, regardless of size. They would have to live in fenced enclosures with a coop. No roosters are allowed on lots of less than 130,000 square feet.

Moran has said chicken eggs provide a nutritious and sustainable protein source for residents. She said two hens provide enough eggs to feed a person for a year.

She has said 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.



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