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Chickens Living In Backyards Could Become More Common

Victor Alfieri's mission to allow chickens on small properties closer to being reality.

Getting fresh eggs could be as easy as going out to one’s backyard soon.

The introduced an ordinance Wednesday that reduces the amount of land residents need to keep chicken hens on their property.

The town currently allows up to 25 hens to be kept on a property that is 2 acres in size or larger. The ordinance would amend the law so that four hens could be kept on properties that are at least 10,000 square feet in size. Residents must apply for a zoning permit and pay a $25 fee before the animals are allowed on a property.

Victor Alfieri has so more people can take advantage of what he says are the “many wonderful things” hens have to offer. Alfieri has three hens living in a pen in his backyard.

“It helps make Wayne a more sustainable town and will improve the collective quality of life here,” said Alfieri, who helped write the legislation. "I'm very pleased with the ordinance."

Each of Alfieri’s hens lays approximately 300 eggs a year. He uses eggshells and manure to fertilize several vegetable gardens on his property. He said the animals make a minimal amount of noise and are not dirty.

“I think the town has lagged behind with regards to sustainability,” Alfieri said. “This ordinance is a great start to helping make Wayne a more sustainable place to live.”

The ordinance states that chicken coops must be kept “clean and dry,” located in a backyard, and be least 10 feet away from property lines. Chicken runs must be between 32 and 80 square feet in area. Pens and coops are subject to random inspection by the township. Roosters are not allowed and breeding chickens is prohibited. Hens cannot be slaughtered and the eggs they produce cannot be sold.

The council is scheduled take a final vote on the ordinance at its next meeting on March 21. If approved, the new law would go into effect April 10.

Some officials support the proposed changes.

“I think this is a good thing in this day and age where more people are talking about sustainability and healthier lifestyles,” Councilman Al Sadowski said.

Councilman Joseph Schweighardt abstained from voting on introducing the ordinance. He said that chickens are not the reason why he didn’t vote.

“It’s spot zoning,” Schweighardt said. “To simply take an ordinance and change it to meet one individual’s needs and desires is simply wrong.”

Schweighardt said he is trying to protect residents’ quality of life and preserve property values.

“We’re not in a rural area and I wouldn’t want to live next to someone who has chickens on his or her property. Residents’ collective quality of life is what I must account for first,” Schweighardt said. “I admire Mr. Alfieri for what he’s doing, but the value of someone’s property is not a small consideration.” 

LishaP March 12, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Thank you victor.
Adrian vB March 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Dear Sandy, I saw in one of your posts the list of townships that allow chickens. I would love to have two chickens myself. I just recently moved to Essex Fells from Europe and asked at the zoning department if chickens are allowed and they told me "no". Would you mind letting me know where you got that information from so I can get back to them? Thank you very much for your help, Adrian
Jenny Plaza September 29, 2012 at 04:12 AM
We choose Liberty at our house in our town. Our neighbors are happy with our choice of pets. A basket of eggs beats a pile of poop! BTW our 4 (twenty week old) Sex-link hens (2 Red Stars and 2 Black Stars) chased a rat away today. It came down the hill from our fruit trees and running it went. They tried to hurt it (pecking, clawing, and squawking to alert the flock) they almost got the jump on it. Those girls have spunk!!!
Chris Traynor October 01, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Jenny - I think we're on the same side - aren't we? I'm assuming that you have the required acreage to legally own and keep those kick-ass, rat-chasing chickens. If so, that's great but so many of us don't have the land (or the liberty) and can't enjoy a fresh basket of eggs (we actually do have said "pile of poop" from our two chihuahuas ... while the turds are tiny, the frequency of their earthly arrival feeds the pile enough to make it technically qualify as a pile). I will say that your relationship with your chickens sounds very "adult" in nature - between "sex-link hens" and talk of "chicken spunk", I'm not certain I'm old enough to get into that fowl movie. Peach and Feathers Always ... C.T.
Victor Alfieri October 01, 2012 at 11:38 AM
You do not need acreage. Any resident on any size property in Wayne NJ can raise chicken hens, roosters, ducks, turkey, etc...... Any questions contact the local expert.......http://www.woodlotfarms.com/

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