Tag Archive | "chickens"

Chicken Law Revised

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According to the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees, resident Mare Dianora should be comfortable keeping all of her eggs in one basket and have faith that the Village of Sag Harbor will make it possible to hatch chickens on her Grand Street property.

A new “chicken law” was unveiled at the village board’s Tuesday night meeting meant to clarify a code that Dianora helped craft with trustees last year to legalize the keeping of chickens in Sag Harbor.

The move comes after an interpretation of that code by Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt. He ruled Dianora would need to go to the village zoning board of appeals (ZBA) because she did not have half an acre of property. Under Platt’s view, that is what is required at a minimum to have chickens in Sag Harbor under the new law.

The original law read that “the number of chickens and bantams shall not exceed six per 20,000 square-feet of lot area and in no event more than 18 on any parcel.”

While Platt has interpreted that section of the code to mean 20,000 square-feet, or a half acre, is necessary to keep chickens at all — a rarity in a village where most parcels are far smaller than that — Sag Harbor Village Board members said last month it was not their intention when they drafted the legislation.

To rectify the situation, on Tuesday night the village board introduced a new law changing the legislation to deem chickens legal, provided only “one per 3,500 square feet of lot area” is allowed on any parcel. This now paves the way for the three chickens Dianora hopes to keep on her 13,000 square-feet, Grand Street property.

Like the previous law, roosters will be expressly prohibited as will the sale of eggs or poultry produced on a residential site.

The new law will be up for public hearing at the board’s July 10 meeting at 6 p.m.

The revised “chicken law” was not the only new legislation introduced Tuesday night. Trustees have also proposed to change the language in the law governing the scope of the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB).

While the board has often viewed applications outside of the village’s historic district, its code is proposed to be modified giving the ARB the right to impose the requirement of a certificate of appropriateness for all changes that occur within the historic district, but additionally any development that requires site plan review by the village planning board.

That proposal will also be up for public hearing on July 10.

Lastly, following a number of complaints in recent years, trustees will also hold a public hearing on a local law that prohibits residents from discharging water from a swimming pool into village streets and therefore into its drainage systems that lead to the bay.

Incumbents Run Unopposed in North Haven

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By Claire Walla

This Tuesday, North Haven Village will see an uncontested election, with trustees George Butts and Diane Skilbred, as well as Mayor Laura Nolan all up for reelection.

Nolan, who will be running for her sixth term in office, includes in her list of achievements: financial stewardship (maintaining the same tax rate for the last five years); land preservation (preserving 26 acres of open space); village management (upgrading to a digital filing system); and traffic-calming measures supported by the roundabout where Ferry Road meets County Road 60.

Nolan added the most important issues facing the village in the coming years will include the effects of the two-percent tax cap, as well as “the continued pressures of development” and “preserving the beauty of our coastal waters.”

After moving to North Haven in the early ‘90s, Nolan first ran for village board in 1997.

“I originally got involved because of the deer issue,” Nolan said.

Back then, Nolan said the deer population in North Haven alone registered over 500. Together with her fellow village board members, Nolan said she helped put measures in place to reduce the deer population.

“We have safely reduced the deer herd,” she wrote in an email, “and continue to maintain a very small deer population.”

After having served on the North Haven Village Board since 2010, Trustee Diane Skilbred will be running for her second term in office.

Of the issues the village board has faced in the time she’s been in office, she said the most significant have been the law allowing residents to raise chickens and the cell phone tower first proposed in December of 2010.

“I was the only one who was opposed to it,” she said of the tower. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for North Haven.” (The cell tower proposal was ultimately shot down.)

Much of Skilbred’s decision making has revolved around the idea of maintaining the “rural character” of the village, which is why she said she strongly supported the chicken law, which was ultimately adopted by the board.

While relatively new to the village board, Skilbred was previously a member of the Architectural Review Board (ARB), which she served on for 16 years.

The main initiative Skilbred said she will try to spearhead during her next term in office is installing solar panels on the roof of Village Hall.

After four years as a North Haven Village Trustee, George Butts will be running for his third term in office.

Butts was born and raised in Sag Harbor and moved to North Haven in the ‘80s. A member of the Volunteer Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Dive Team, Butts had been Chairman of the North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 years before joining the village board.

Like Skilbred, of the most important issues the board has faced in the last four years Butts named the newly adopted chicken law and the debate over the proposed cell phone tower. But, in general, Butts said the village has remained relatively uncontroversial.

“It’s a good thing what we’re doing,” he said, explaining that the board works as a unit, for the most part, and largely avoids much bickering when it comes to deciding issues.

“I hope we’ll continue to take care of everything and make [the village] run as smoothly as it has been running,” he said.

“We’re an unusual board,” Mayor Nolan added.  “We work as a team.”

The North Haven Village election will take place this Tuesday, June 19 at Village Hall.

The Serious Side of Pet Adoption

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DSCF7306 adjusted

By Claire Walla

“Do not buy the rabbits! Do not buy the chickens!”

Just about this time of year, when baby animals are born and images of fluffy white bunnies mark the onset of Easter, East Hampton resident Pat Lillis gets extra upset.

“I know, ‘they’re sooo cute,”’ Lillis mocked with a strained, high-pitched inflection. “But, who’s going to take care of them?”

If you’ve ever met Lillis, then you know this dialogue, written as it is, does little to capture the full spectrum of her husky, Irish, curse-word-ridden speech. And it does nothing to convey the passion she has for this issue.

Wearing Ugg boots, ripped cargo shorts and a t-shirt with the phrase “Defend human rights today, prevent tragedy tomorrow” — a year-round look for the 61-year-old — Lillis tended to the animals in her home as she railed against a segment of the population she has many issues with: “animal lovers.”

“There’s a reason why these cats are here,” she continued, referring to the posse of felines lounging in her kitchen. “It’s because people ‘fell in love’ with them.”

Twelve years ago, Lillis founded a non-profit organization called Elsa’s Ark, which raises funds to care for injured or abandoned animals. The organization is run out of her home in Springs, and can best be described by a hand-made sign she has hung on a bulletin board in her garage: Only one question allowed, how can I help?

“I had another one, but it fell down and the cats pissed on it,” she explained.

Lillis herself has cared for rabbits and chickens over the years, and is now caring for precisely two dogs, 15 chickens and nearly three-dozen cats, only one of which — Houdini, whom she described as “a thug” — is her own.

Lillis goes through roughly 574 cans of cat food a week. She counted.

“I don’t go looking for animals,” Lillis was very quick to explain. “And I don’t buy them.”

This is one of the many talking points that flips her lid. Lillis believes nobody should ever buy an animal. And even if they have plans to adopt, she urges interested parties to think long and hard before bringing a cat, a dog or even a chicken into their home.

Every now and then, she said, a “brave soul” will knock on the window of her Volvo and ask for her help. Lillis gritted her teeth before continuing: “If I meet you and you tell me you’re going to give up your animal, you’d better be in the ready position to start the 100 meters.”

According to Ginny Frati of the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, located in Southampton, the center sees about 12 domesticated rabbits each year. It is currently caring for two baby bunnies, in fact, which, at three inches long, she estimates are about two-and-a-half weeks old. They were allegedly found in East Port.

The Center also sees its fair share of chicks and ducks. Last year, she said there were two domesticated geese found along the banks of Otter Pond right here in Sag Harbor. Rescue crews were able to secure the animals, rehabilitate them and find them new homes.

However, Franti said most are not so lucky.

“People often bring them to a pond when they don’t want them anymore,” she explained. “Usually a fox or a raccoon will get them in the first year.” And with domestic ducks, she added, “Dogs will attack them, then we get them after they’ve been attacked.”

More than two decades before Elsa’s Ark was established, three East End residents created the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) to address the growing population of abandoned animals on the East End.

ARF’s executive director Sara Davison said the situation has improved dramatically for Hamptons cats and dogs. Now, only about 15 percent of the dogs at ARF are abandoned. However, about half the cat population at ARF is there due to “owner abandonment.”

According to Director of Operations Michele Forrester, the shelter can keep up to 160 dogs and cats at one time, and it’s almost always at capacity.

“We’re now approaching kitten season,” Forrester further explained. Around this time of year, the feral cat population has an explosion of new litters, many of which end up at ARF. She said there are hundreds of volunteers throughout the community who not only help to feed feral cat colonies, but help locate new litters of kittens and bring them to ARF to be spayed or neutered.

“We call that ‘breaking the feral cat cycle,’” Executive Director Sara Davison added.

Because of these practices, Forrester said ARF has seen a decline in the number of kittens it’s seen for the past four years. However, she added, there are still too many cats for ARF to handle on its own. Because it is a private facility, ARF is able to pick and choose which animals it keeps for adoption. There’s a waiting list for the rest.

“You can’t overwhelm the staff, we have to stay at a level we can handle,” Forrester continued.

Like ARF, Pat Lillis is a big proponent of “breaking the feral cat cycle.” Elsa’s Ark provides free spaying and neutering services for anyone wishing to sterilize their cat.

But, she acknowledges that curbing reproduction is only half the battle.

In the backyard of her home, surrounded by her chickens Charlie Brown, Bertha, Red Red, Jeanne, Aggy, Mattie and Phyllis Diller (a light brown bird with a feathery ‘fro), Lillis explained that people’s attitudes toward animals are a big part of the problem.

For example, several of Lillis’ birds came from a man in Westhampton Beach who had moved from Mastic with 11 chickens in tow. He abandoned the birds when his neighbor complained.

“People don’t think before they get animals,” Lillis railed.

The cleaning, the feeding, the going into the chicken coop at dusk with a flashlight to check every nook and cranny for threatening four-legged species with an appetite for breast meat, she said it’s all part of the job.

At the beginning of January, Lillis said two cats were left in their cat carrier with a note: “We know you will give them a home.”

Just repeating the story put Lillis on edge.

“F— that!” she roared. “I’m a spinster at 61-years-old, how much longer am I going to live?! The nerve!”

“People make the mistake of saying I love animals,” she continued. But, she she said it’s not love.

“I believe everyone should be looked after,” Lillis said. “You have to be part of this world you’re hanging out in. I pick up everything. I pick up people, I pick up animals, I pick up garbage… If you see something that has to be done, it’s your civic duty to do it. It’s just your civic duty.”

Garden Center Prepares for Easter Animals

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Garden Center adjusted

By Claire Walla


When Phil Bucking started his gardening store 17 years ago, he didn’t just bring flowers and foliage to the village.

For as long as the Sag Harbor Garden Center has been around, it has consistently hosted an annual petting zoo to cap off the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Easter Bonnet Parade, bringing rabbits, pigs, ducks, chicks and even llamas to the area so that bonnet-laden villagers and their children could enjoy Easter weekend festivities after their midday trek up Main Street.

“We clear away everything,” Bucking said as he stood on the porch of the old train depot — now the hub of his business — and swept his arm across the front portion of his yard space. Come Saturday, where now there are wooden shelves filled with potted plants, colorful spring buds and rows of terra cotta lawn ornaments, there will be a bevy of farm animals (brought to the East End by a group from the Cornell Cooperative).

“It’s a bit of a hassle,” Bucking said of the routine round of heavy lifting preceding the event. “But,” he added with a grin, “we do it.”

The bonnet parade begins in front of BookHampton at 1 p.m. and concludes a quick 15 minutes later at the garden center, where farm animals will be grazing, grilled hot dogs will be sold for charity and — of course — the Easter Bunny himself will show up for a photo op. In prior years, Bucking said the Girl Scouts were responsible for dishing up the frankfurters; this year, that service will be provided by a group of elementary school students who plan to contribute all profits to the village’s effort to restore the windmill at Long Wharf.

The idea for the Easter Bonnet Parade-and-petting zoo was generated by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce in 1996. According to Bucking, a chamber board member, the events were established in an effort to stretch the Easter holiday back to include Saturday. (There is also an annual Easter Egg Hunt at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, sponsored by the Sag Harbor Lion’s Club.)

Extending the weekend is especially important for a holiday like Easter, Bucking added, because most village businesses recognize the holiday and close-up shop on Sunday. While Bucking said he didn’t think hosting the petting zoo had a particularly strong impact on the garden center’s weekend sales — “most people are here just for fun” — he did say that the event itself has been helpful for the economy of the village as a whole.

“It kicks-off spring for everybody,” Bucking exclaimed.

Well, in theory.

This year happens to be a special case. The mild winter and early onset of warm weather brought spring conditions a few weeks early. This has already proven to be helpful for the garden business, Bucking said, as people are planting and pruning much earlier this year. Bucking added that the weather may prove to be good for business for the duration of 2012, as he predicts there may be an excess of weeds and bugs — both pesky problems that can be cured by products Bucking sells at the Sag Harbor Garden Center.

In addition to business benefits, Bucking continued to say that this year’s weather is a good sign for the Easter Parade and Petting Zoo.

“Last year was the first rain-out,” Bucking said. “And the year before that it was cut short — again because of the weather.”

So, from the looks of it, it’ll be sunny skies for parade-goers this weekend, which means sunny skies for Sag Harbor’s business community.

Village: A Home For Hens

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ag Harbor Village Trustees

Village Introduces Chicken Law

By Kathryn G. Menu

Given that there has been little squawking over a propose law that would allow residents to keep chickens in Sag Harbor, at its public hearing on July 12 the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees could make the legislation legal. The news comes much to the delight of residents like Mare Dianora, who is already scoping out chicken coops.

During a June 14 meeting, the Board of Trustees introduced the legislation, which will make it legal for residents to raise chickens, with limitations. The new law would allow hens, but prohibit their noisy rooster counterparts, and will likely be adopted, barring residents speaking out in opposition to it.

The introduction of the local law comes just two months after Dianora asked the board to consider legalizing the practice so residents like she and her husband, Claes Brondal, could keep chickens to provide fresh eggs and fertilizer.

This comes almost a year after North Haven Village couple Brett and Kristin Morgan successfully lobbied the North Haven Village Board to create legislation allowing residents the rights to keep poultry on their properties.

The proposed law, if approved, will allow residents only in residential districts in the village to keep chickens as a special accessory use. The law limits the number of chickens or bantams — a small variety of poultry — to six per 20,000 square-feet of lot area, which is just shy of half an acre of land. Residents will be restricted to a maximum of 18 chickens.

The selling of eggs or any poultry products is prohibited under the legislation, as is keeping roosters. Coops or structures used to house the poultry is also limited to 100 square-feet or 10 feet in height and must be kept in the rear yard. Setback of coops may be no less than 20-feet from the property line. Areas the poultry reside in must also be fenced.

Under the proposed law, the village’s zoning board of appeals may not grant variances to any of the provisions in the legislation. Applicants hoping to keep chickens must notify their neighbors of their application, including a plan for where they plan to keep the birds.

The proposed law will be up for public hearing at the board of trustees Tuesday, July 12 meeting at 6 p.m.

Just months after the Board of Trustees introduced a proposed law that would have required homeowners to have their septic or wastewater treatment system checked every three years, the Town of Southampton announced it would draft similar legislation. The legislation is aimed at protecting the health of the Peconic Estuary by ensuring faulty systems are not seeping waste into groundwater and bays.

However, on Tuesday night, the village board decided to scrap plans, for now, to move forward with the legislation. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted it may be “a little too much” for the Village of Sag Harbor.

In March, at the behest of trustee Robby Stein, the law was introduced on the village board level. It would have required residents to have any in-ground cesspool, septic tank or drain field inspected once every three years, starting four years after the law is adopted by the board.

One impetus for the draft law, said Stein, was that Suffolk County was looking at select waterfront communities that have sewage treatment plants to see if those plants should be expanded to reduce the number of in-ground septic systems on the waterfront. Sag Harbor was one of those communities.

The draft law drew the ire of residents like former mayor Pierce Hance, who questioned the necessity of the legislation. But it also drew praise from Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean, who said the village should do all it can to protect its waterfront.

In the meantime, as Stein noted on Tuesday, last month, the Town of Southampton announced it was drafting similar legislation with the aid of groups like the Group for the East End. That draft law, in its infancy, mandates residents have their systems pumped every five years, or whenever the property is transferred to a new owner. An inspection would also occur at that time, by someone licensed by the county to collect septic waste, to ensure the system was up to county standards.

However, for now, in the Village of Sag Harbor, it appears such regulation is off the table.

“It’s a little too much for Sag Harbor,” said Gilbride.

A Tale of Six Chickens: Resident Hopes to Make Fowl Legal in North Haven

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When Brett and Kirstin Morgan moved from New York City to the East End they were ready to embrace a sustainable and organic lifestyle. After settling into a home in North Haven in 2008, the couple started a small vegetable garden. The planting led to composting and composting soon led the Morgans to investigate raising backyard chickens. By August 2009, the Morgan family was the proud owner of six day-old hens and one year later the brood has flourished.
Regulations in North Haven Village, though, threaten to put the kibosh on the Morgan’s coop. Hoping to act preemptively, Brett implored the village board on Monday to put chicken friendly laws on the books. Hundreds of municipalities across the country, and a few on Long Island, have legalized residential poultry operations or are in the midst of crafting such legislation. In Huntington, locals are allowed to house up to eight chickens behind their homes. The pens must be cleaned daily and the eggs cannot be sold. Greenport Village Trustee Michael Osinski is pushing for a similar bill. Most regulations prohibit the presence of roosters, known for insidiously crowing at the break of dawn.
For Brett, the issue isn’t merely a vote for an environmentally conscious lifestyle, but is also a campaign to save the newest additions to his family. Aurora, Ariel, Daylight, Brownie, Sunshine and Midnight — as the youngest Morgans, daughters Mackenzie, 4-and-three-quarters, and Piper, 3, have named them — are now more pets than farm fowl.
“Whether collecting eggs, or chasing them around the yard, it’s amazing what joy chickens can bring to a youngster’s face,” wrote Brett in a letter to the village board.
Brett and Kirstin talk animatedly about their bird’s habits, preferences and even appearance. Kirstin points out the bright red wattle and comb on her Easter Egger, the scarlet coloring is an indication of good health, as it lays an egg in the turquoise shingled coop. She has no qualms about petting her “babies” like any domesticated animal and even Mackenzie and Piper are adept at chasing them around the yard to pick them up. A peck on the hand doesn’t ruffle Piper’s feathers as she gives a look of shock instead of sobbing.
Though Brett grew up on a Sagaponack private farm, he wasn’t the Morgan driving the family’s plucky purchase. Instead, it was Kirstin who hungered for a hatch to call her own. Though Kirstin was raised in a developed part of New Jersey, she fondly remembers visiting a friend’s farm in Pennsylvania.
“They had chickens. We grabbed all the eggs and the mom made us something,” Kirstin recalled. “I’ve always had this desire.”

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The Morgan’s poultry is truly free-range. Every afternoon, the gang of six are let out of the coop and allowed to roam the property and sometimes the neighborhood. Although most neighbors enjoy the company — and the eggs — this freedom has also landed the Morgans in a bit of hot water with the village. According to Brett and Kirstin, North Haven Village Building Inspector Al Daniels said an adjacent property owner called him to complain that the birds had trespassed on their lawn.
At a village board meeting on Monday, Brett lobbied for an amendment and extolled the benefits of keeping hens. He pointed out that they provide pest control by mainly subsisting on bugs, ticks and grubs from around the yard. This also reduces the family’s chances of contracting a tick-borne illness. Their manure and eggshells are folded back into compost used for the garden. Every day the chickens lay around six eggs, and the Morgans give the excess to neighbors and friends. The eggs come in all hues, ranging from light green to dark brown, and taste richer than the store bought variety, Kirstin added.
Friend Chuck Seltzer, who is also a North Haven resident, attended the meeting to lend support. He vouched for the deliciousness of the eggs, saying “it would have been smart to bring samples.”
After a few questions posed by board members on the height chickens can jump — around eight feet if they are spooked — and noise, though another friend says the hens produce no more sound than a leaf blower, village mayor Laura Nolan said the board would more thoroughly consider crafting a law.
“We will take a look at what the other communities have done,” she said. “We will discuss this with our village attorney and take it from there.”