Tonawanda News

March 26, 2013

Residents lobby for chicken law

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Locals persisted Monday night with their fight to change the town’s ordinance prohibiting them to raise chickens on their residential properties. 

Members of the Byrnes family previously submitted a draft of a law that would do away with the ban, and came back to Monday’s meeting to again urge the board to approve the legislation. 

“I just would like to encourage you to consider it,” Jeff Byrnes, of Avon Road, said. “I know a lot of communities have looked into it — probably some rural, but urban, too.” 

The proposed law would include provisions to prohibit raising chickens for commercial purposes, roosters, breeding and chickens in the front yard.

In addition, the number of chickens on a property would be limited to six. Feed would have to be stored in secure containers and the chickens would have to be in chicken coops or fenced and walled enclosures.

Byrnes said he now has 42 signatures from town residents on a petition in support of the draft, but the board’s response Monday night was less than enthusiastic. 

“We have a lot of people calling and saying they don’t want any chickens,” Supervisor Anthony Caruana said, after noting that the board hasn’t decided whether to vote on the draft. 

Caruana and the board previously expressed concern about the chickens’ noise, smell and the possibility of the animals attracting rodents — as the town has invested a good deal of money in garbage totes to control the area’s rodent problem.

And Monday, board member Joseph Emminger brought up another concern. 

“We do have some air issues in the town, we think it affects humans,” he said, citing health concern’s at the hands of the many industrial plants in the town.  “What’s it going to do to chickens? What’s going to happen to them five years down the road? And we are going to eat those eggs.” 

In response, Jim Byrnes, of Keats Avenue, said he would be more worried about living in the town if the environmental issues are, in fact, serious enough to warrant concern about the raising of chickens.

Byrnes also brought up the Erie County Farm’s Bureau’s Right to Farm Law, which, according to the bureau’s chairman, Hans. J. Mobius, the town has not instituted. 

“Twenty-three towns in the county have the law,” Mobius said. “Only two are lef ... Cheektowaga and the town, who have so far, just turned us down.”

Under the law, the Right to Farm Committee would resolve disputes over various farming issues in all of the county’s municipalities. It “acknowledges farming as an important component of a town and helps to allow farming to proceed.” 

“This law allows farmers more latitude on operations but does not allow or encourage practices that are negligent, reckless or do not conform to other local, state and federal laws,” a statement from the farm bureau reads.  

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board called for a hearing on rezoning a portion of the Colvin-Eggert Plaza for the construction of an automotive center. 

Board member John Bargnesi said the project will involve renovation of the old I-290 ramp in the front of the plaza that is no longer being used.

“It’s a good project,” Bargnesi said. “It’s going to address that area and clean it up.” 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150