Looks like the City Council in Saco, Maine (just south of Portland - see on larger map) is considering how many urban chickens is the right number of urban chickens.
Kate Irish Collins writes in the Community News of KeepMECurrent that "a plan to allow people to keep at least three chickens as pets in the city has gone back to the drawing board after Saco City Councilor Les Smith suggested the total number of fowl be raised to a dozen."
The bit that gets me is the following:
I think there are many of us that find keeping even two chickens are well worth the "aggravation" and in fact, having twelve seems like way too many... unless you're looking to profit from the surplus eggs or meat.
“I’d like to allow as many as 12 chickens. Having only three is hardly worth the aggravation,” Smith said during a council meeting Monday. But Councilor Marston Lovell said allowing a dozen chickens could have a negative impact on public health.
Due to the debate on just how many chickens residents should be allowed to keep, the council agreed to discuss the issue further at an upcoming workshop.
Regardless the final numbers of chickens allowed per residence, I find the rest of the provisions of the ordinance to be quite smart:
- chickens would have to be kept in a wire enclosure with access to a hen house
- pen and hen house must be in a backyard and be 50 feet back from any property line, or located on house lots of at least one acre
- annual permit would be required from the code enforcement office and a building permit would be required in order to construct the hen house or to convert an existing shed, garage or barn into a chicken habitat
- during the day the chickens would be allowed outside the pen, as long as they are in a “securely fenced yard”
- owners of the chickens would also be required to store and remove feces “to the satisfaction of the animal control officer”
- no more than 3 cubic feet of manure can be stored at one time