Village: A Home For Hens

Posted on 15 June 2011

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.

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