, Salem, MA

Local News

March 26, 2014

Feathers fly in Salem over chicken regulations

SALEM — It is hard for a chicken to run afoul of the law in this city because there aren’t many rules or regulations governing the backyard birds.

This is no town for Marshal Rooster Cogburn.

The lack of adequate zoning or permitting regulations became apparent last week when the Board of Appeal held a hearing on urban chickens.

Michele Conway, who has four hens in her Orchard Street backyard, went before the board to appeal a decision by the building inspector who, in response to a complaint from a neighbor, ruled that chickens aren’t allowed under local zoning.

He cited a local ordinance stating that “no building in which farm animals are kept shall be permitted within 100 feet of any property line.” Conway’s coop is just a few feet from the yard of neighbors who said the birds are noisy, smelly and too close to their home.

The inspector also noted that the city has special permits that might allow chickens, but not in the residential zoning district where Conway lives.

The hearing room at 120 Washington St. was packed with chicken owners, old and young, all of whom expressed their love for chickens and cited countless reasons why backyard hens belong in Salem.

Three city councilors in attendance also came out strongly in favor of the fowl.

The chickens won on a 4-1 vote, with the majority of the appeals board deciding that Conway’s birds are family pets and not an “agricultural operation” as defined by a city zoning ordinance.

That is the same conclusion the board reached in 2008, the last time chickens were the subject of a ZBA hearing, when a neighbor unsuccessfully challenged a Federal Street family’s five fowl.

The one-hour hearing made it apparent that the city and state chicken laws are about as clear as a coop filled with feathers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Comments Tracker