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December 14, 2013

In Amesbury, much clucking over backyard chickens

AMESBURY – With its term coming to an end, the City Council has one last decision to make before fleeing the coop.

In what will likely be one of its final decisions before the end of the year, the City Council is expected to vote on a zoning amendment that would allow residents to keep chickens in their yards as pets and for egg production at its special meeting Tuesday night.

The amendment was proposed by District 2 City Councilor Christian Scorzoni, who proposed the ordinance at the request of a constituent so that locals would have the freedom to keep chickens at their homes like residents in many other communities.

“I filed the ordinance is because a resident in District 2 had reached out to me and asked that I file something,” Scorzoni said. “The resident recently purchased a property in the neighborhood and was planning on keeping backyard chickens, but was told by the town that local zoning doesn’t allow chickens as long as your property is below two acres in size.”

A public hearing on the issue was originally on the agenda last Tuesday’s meeting, but was tabled so that the Planning Board would have a chance to weigh in on the issue. The board will hold its public hearing on the potential zoning amendment Monday at 7 p.m., and the City Council’s meeting is scheduled for on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held at City Hall Auditorium.

Scorzoni said he expects the Planning Board will want to work out logistical issues such as whether residents would be able to just buy the chickens or if they’d need to obtain a special permit first.

He added that Building Inspector Denis Nadeau has been approached and seems receptive to the idea, but would like a minimum lot threshold to be worked into the bill.

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