, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 14, 2013

In Amesbury, much clucking over backyard chickens


“He’s recommended a 12,000 square foot minimum lot size, just because he doesn’t want backyard chickens with very small footprints,” Scorzoni said.

If approved, the amendment would allow residents to keep up to six chickens on their property, and possibly more if the homeowner’s property is bigger than one acre. Specifically, residents would be allowed to keep the chickens as pets, for egg production and for fertilizer production, but on-site slaughtering for meat production won’t be allowed.

The proposal includes a number of provisions designed to protect neighbors from unwanted noise and odors as well. For instance, no roosters or crowing chickens will be allowed, chickens must be kept within a coop or enclosure at all times and unless it is being used as fertilizer, refuse must be disposed of weekly and it can’t be stored on the property.

The bill also includes language dictating minimum chicken coop and enclosure requirements. Coops must provide a minimum of three square feet of space per animal, sufficient ventilation and must be lined with organic bedding material such as hay, litter or sawdust, while enclosures must provide at least eight square feet of space per animal.

Coops and enclosures must be located a minimum of 20 feet from any habitable building, 40 feet from any habitable building on an adjoining lot, 40 feet from any well heads or open bodies of water, and 10 feet from property lines. They must also conform to all regulations pertaining to accessory buildings and be constructed and maintained in a safe and sanitary condition.

Also, if the owner of the chickens isn’t the owner of the property, that person will have to seek written permission from the property owner, and all feed must be stored indoors in secure containers to keep rodents and other animals out.

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