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Chickens Are Legal in Sag Harbor

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On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor resident Mare Dianora sat in the front row of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting with a virtual library of books on raising chickens and building coops in her lap. Her young son Finny, came into the board room clutching a stuffed chicken he has brought to some four meetings to wish his mother luck on the approval of a proposed law she has championed to make it legal for residents to raise and keep chickens in Sag Harbor.

Neither Finny nor Dianora left disappointed.

With only one resident questioning aspects of the law, although supportive of the measure overall, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees officially made it legal. Residents can now raise and keep chickens and bantams, a small variety of poultry, on their properties.

The law allows people in the residential districts of the village to keep up to six chickens per 20,000 square-feet of lot area, or just shy of a half acre of land. Residents will not be able to have more than 18 chickens on their property, regardless of its size, and the sale of any poultry items, including eggs is prohibited.

The intent of the law is to allow families like Dianora’s the ability to raise their own poultry for fresh eggs and fertilizer.

As trustee Robby Stein illustrated with a large plastic figure of a rooster and smaller version of a chicken, roosters are expressly forbidden under the new law, which has been lauded by the board with little protest from residents since Dianora proposed the legislation in April.

The law allows the keeping of poultry as a special exception use — meaning residents will have to apply to the building department and will need approval from the village planning board before they can start raising their broods. Coops or any structures used to house the animals are limited to 100 square-feet or 10 feet in height and must be kept in the rear yard. A coop must also meet a 20-foot setback to the property line and any outdoor pen must meet the standard for an accessory structure, keeping a distance of 10-feet from the property line – an issue clarified by the board at the questioning of resident Peter Price.

According to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., the legislation is nearly identical to a law adopted in North Haven Village last year, after Brett and Kristin Morgan successfully lobbied that village board for the right to keep chickens on their property.

After the meeting, Dianora said she planned to apply for her coop and chickens through the village building department as soon as possible, meaning Finny will soon have more than a stuffed chicken to cuddle.

Dianora added that throughout the process she was actually surprised more members of the public didn’t come forward in opposition to the law, but that it spoke of the community’s commitment.

“I felt there was a great deal of support from the community in the people I have spoken to along the way,” she said. “We are very excited and hope to be taking care of chickens very shortly.”