EATONTOWN: After what one council member called "17 months of discussion" the borough's new ordinance governing the keeping of chickens has been adopted.
The ordinance was passed by a 4-2 vote in late June and was subsequently vetoed by Mayor Dennis Connelly who cited zoning, enforcement, quality of life and health issues as his reasons for doing so.
At the July 26 Eatontown Council meeting, a resolution to override the veto was passed by a 4-2 vote with council members Anthony Talerico, Al Baginsky, Virginia East and Patti May voting for the resolution and Mark Regan and Donna Mazzella-Diedrichsen voted against it. The vote went the same way when the ordinance as introduced and adopted.
Every council member and the mayor spoke out on why or not they were in favor of the ordinance.
"Please, tell me how this will not cause neighbor disputes, please tell me how the majority of people in town are welcome to this change and please tell me how this enhances our town," Connelly said.
Councilwoman May said she believes people will follow the new rules that have been established.
"I don't particularly like the assumption that people aren't going to follow the rules, I like to have a better outlook of the people," May said.
Currently, chickens are only allowed on lots that are 5 acres or larger. Councilman Talerico originally proposed relaxing this requirement so more people could have chickens, albeit with increased guidelines and restrictions.
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.