EATONTOWN: The borough council has introduced an ordinance which will allow residents to keep chickens in coops in their backyards.
The council voted 4-2 to introduce the ordinance, which sets rules and regulations for having chickens in lots less than 5 acres, during its May 10 meeting with Councilman Mark Regan and Councilwoman Donna Mazzella-Diedrichsen voting against its introduction.
Currently, chickens are only allowed on lots that are 5 acres or larger. Councilman Anthony Talerico has proposed relaxing this requirement so more people could have chickens, albeit with increased guidelines and restrictions.
In February, the council authorized the borough's zoning officer to prepare a template for an ordinance, and that ordinance was discussed for the first time on Wednesday night.
The ordinance allows residents to keep 5 chickens in their backyard in their lot is at least 5,000 square feet. One additional chicken is allowed for every 1,000 square feet of property, up to a maximum of 12,000 square feet and 12 chickens.
The ordinance does not allow roosters on any property smaller than 5 acres, and does not allow people to keep chickens for sale or consumption.
In order to keep chickens, residents must first receive a zoning permit and obtain a permit license annually for $25. The ordinance also states that the zoning officer or code inspector will have the right to "periodically inspect" premises to make sure the chickens are being kept in a clean and humane environment. Any resident who violates the rules of the ordinance can have their zoning permit revoked and will be forced to remove their chickens.
The ordinance also has stringent guidelines for the size, location and types of coops where the chickens will be kept and also outlines how their food and droppings should be kept and disposed.
Some changes have been made to the ordinance since it was first discussed in April. The main modifications are that it now says chickens can only be kept in single family homes and cannot be slaughtered on the owner's property.
Mayor Dennis Connelly said he is still opposed to the ordinance.
"Every time I review this, I find more things that are wrong about it," Connelly said. "I personally don't think this an ordinance that fits our town."
Several residents at the meeting spoke in favor of it. One of the main objections has been that it will not be enforceable, but a Rose Court resident said that the same could be said of any ordinance.
"You can't publish the whole because some people don't follow the rules," she said.
A public hearing on the ordinance will be held during the June 28 council meeting when it will also be up for a final vote and adoption.