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April 30, 2012

NT council to weigh chicken law

After months of debate, the North Tonawanda Common Council is expected to vote tonight to update its livestock codes to allow some forms of urban farming.

The topic was first brought to the city's attention last year following a resident's request to house hens on their property.

Since then, various conversations have ensued with council members concerned about topics ranging from noise to rodents.

It was also revealed that antiquated language dating to the 1950s already allowed for residents to keep chickens, but did not leave room for the city to oversee the process because a health officer mentioned in the city charter no longer exists.

But with the City of Buffalo updating its codes in 2009 to allow chicken coops, most members seem agreeable to following suit.

North Tonawanda City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said he's tweaked some of the language in Buffalo's codes but will be basically adopting what its larger neighbor already has in place. 

"There's no roosters, no slaughterhouses," he said. "There are a lot of restrictions."

Most importantly among those restrictions, several council members have agreed, is the requirement that anyone wishing to have hens on their property retain the consent of their immediate neighbors. 

"That is the big one," said council President Rich Andres. "If the neighbors are fine with it than who am I to say that it doesn't belong in your neighborhood?"

Andres said after researching the issue and contacting officials in Buffalo, the council discovered that there have been few problems to speak of as long as residents follow the rules.

"We're not really creating something new," he said. "What we are doing is clarifying something (because) as the law was written it was unclear. As long as residents with hens run a clean operation there shouldn't be many problems."

The council will vote on the matter during tonight's regular session.

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