Thursday, April 3, 2008

Urban Chickens in Saco, Maine: 3, 6 or 12?

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’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.

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.

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
The thought of keeping 3 cubic feet of chicken poop on hand gives me the willies, but to each his or her own!


Bonnie said...

What a great blog!!!
I am currently working in Kamloops, BC, Canada to vary the current by-laws to allow hens in residential areas on lots smaller than 1 acre. I have given a presentation to the city about all the breat benefits, but to no prevail. They refused to change the laws. So since then I have been on a crusade to rally up public support and come up with solutions to the cities concerns. Blogs like your are great for getting ideas and getting connected to the urban chicken movement! Heres to food sovereignty and sustainable living!!

ThomasK said...

Thanks for commenting, Bonnie, and welcome to Urban Chickens! Glad to hear you're not letting the initial setback keep you from pressing on. Would love to have you share the salient points from your presentation so all can benefit. If you're so inclined, drop me an email at urbanchickensblog [at] gmail [dot] com

Carla said...

The regulation of the 50' feet from any property line seems so irrational. We have that in Pasadena, Ca., also. Of course, our lot (and the majority of others) is 55'x180'. How am I to keep chickens 50' from a property line?
And why isn't this in effect for dogs?
Backyard chickens is a growing phenomenon and cities would be smart to bring their codes up to date in accordance.

Enjoy your blog very much!

Sam's mom said...

I agree with Carla on the 50' rule. We live on a street corner, so our back yard is fairly small. Our coop is in the back corner of our lot, where four property lines come together. So technically it's not a good spot. But it's also the furthest point away from all 4 surrounding houses!

Dictating where a coop should be built doesn't seem like a good idea.


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