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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    Cock-a-doodle-don’t: Lyme zoning officials reject proposed rooster ban

    Lyme ― Carl Morstadt sees his Avenue B home as an oasis threatened by rooster racket.

    A pollinators’ dream, the front and side yard teems with native plants as tall as humans. In back, a patio gives way to a leafy canopy created by two trees outfitted for a hammock. A bird bath and hummingbird feeder are set out to lure wildlife.

    He described himself as an animal lover who assigns names to the skunks that come through on a regular basis.

    “The only issue that we have is with the rooster noise,” he said. “That is the only issue we have. Other than that, we’re very happy with the animals around here.”

    Morstadt is behind a move to ban the rowdy fowl from certain areas of town.

    He said roosters can crow at any time of the day or night when they perceive something is intruding on their space, but the most consistent time they sound off is when the sun rises.

    “My wife and I are both retired. We don't have alarm clocks to go to work. So we just like to be able to sleep, and we can’t,” he said.

    He was leery of singling out any particular rooster because the problem as he described it is bigger than that.

    “There are multiple roosters in the area,” he said. “This is more a townwide thing than just an individual thing.”

    Morstadt’s solution?

    To use the town’s draft agricultural regulations, which have been in the works for seven years, to prohibit roosters in certain areas of town.

    His suggested language would outlaw roosters in the zone that includes houses built in the closest proximity to one another. The designation includes areas of town like the neighborhoods surrounding the so-called waterfront business district in Hamburg on Route 156 and in Hadlyme around the commercial district on Route 82.

    Morstadt said he believes roosters constitute the kind of “offensive” agricultural operations already forbidden in the draft regulations for that zone. The draft language states no land shall be used “in any manner injurious or offensive to a neighborhood because of the emission of odor, fumes, dust, smoke, vibration, noise, unsightliness, light pollution or other cause.”

    He said roosters already in the zone at the time the regulation went into effect would be able to stay.

    “It would just keep the situation from getting worse,” he said.

    But the Planning and Zoning Commission this week declined to take Morstadt’s suggestion to change its draft regulations, which Zoning Enforcement Officer Ross Byrne said are in the legal review stage.

    Audio from the Sept. 11 meeting revealed sympathy for Morstadt’s plight but no appetite to place restrictions on one type of creature.

    Chairman Bernie Gigliotti said he can “feel the man’s pain.”

    “They can be quite annoying,” he said of the roosters. But he added he didn’t consider it “completely tenable” to write roosters out of an entire zone.

    Lyme Planning and Zoning Commission member Carol House said it would be unusual to “eliminate one life form” in an area characterized by forests and fields filled with noisy animals.

    “We live in the country,” she said.

    Commission members concluded regulating noise is the responsibility of the Board of Selectpeople, who are empowered to devise town ordinances.

    Morstadt on Friday disagreed with the idea of roosters falling under the selectmen’s jurisdiction. He said he considers a noise ordinance to be appropriate to address man-made sources of noise, while the draft agricultural regulations would address noise emanating from farm animals.

    He said he’s “pretty much out of recourses at this point” if the selectmen don’t do something.

    First Selectman David Lahm on Thursday said the prevailing viewpoint as he’s heard it is that Lyme is an agricultural town, and roosters are a part of agriculture.

    “I do not foresee us changing our laws to ban roosters,” he said.

    e.regan@theday.com

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