According to the Union Leader, Concord has become the latest in a growing number of New England cities to allow residents to keep a small flock of chickens in their backyards. Chickens are an easy way for urban-dwellers to participate directly in local food movements, as chickens require little space and provide fresh eggs daily.
According to The City Chicken, Portland, Burlington, Cambridge, New Haven and Nashua are among the New England cities that already allow residents to keep chickens–though usually not roosters–in their backyards. Unfortunately, Manchester is not one of those–yet.
Last year, the zoning board denied a variance sought by a Queen City man to keep ten chickens at the corner of Amherst and Belmont streets in a fairly dense area of Hanover Hill. Manchester’s current ordinances classify chicken as livestock, not differentiating them from much larger animals, thus requiring residents to have at least one acre to keep a single chicken.
The good news, though, is that granting a single variance is probably not the best way to deal with Manchester’s outdated ordinance on the matter–changing the ordinance is. And seeing Concord residents successfully and unobtrusively keep small urban flocks will hopefully lead Manchester’s city leaders to act a bit less chicken.
Backyard chickens OK’d in ConcordBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union LeaderPublished Dec 14, 2011CONCORD — Concord has some newly legalized residents and more may be hatching soon.The City Council approved an amendment this week allowing residents to raise chickens for personal consumption.
Only five chickens are allowed per household and none of them can be roosters, averting noise complaints sure to come up with the sun each morning.
“I’ve gotten a number of phone calls over the last number of years from people asking about this,” said Craig Walker, Concord’s zoning administrator and author of the amendment. “There seems to be significant demand in having small backyard flocks and seems to be a trend across the country, even in more urban areas than Concord.”
The new measure is in effect for 21 months, allowing the City Council to review it after the backyard chickens have roosted long enough for city officials to assess whether the fowl are still welcome within city limits.
The original plan was for 18 months, but the additional time will cover two summers and provide a better gauge on one of the biggest concerns raised by opponents — the smell.
Supporters say homegrown chickens allow them to know the source of their eggs and meat.
According to http://www.backyardchickens.com, a website for homegrown chicken and egg enthusiasts, more people want to take part in grow-local food movements, but lack the resources for much more than a backyard garden.
Site owner Rob Ludlow describes backyard chickens as “the pets that make you breakfast!”
The amendment law does not mean a barnyard blitz for Concord. It eliminated ducks as household pets and requires chicken-rearing residents to keep the birds in coops at least 30 feet from the property line and in a side or rear area, Walker said.
Manure must also be either removed or stored in a covered container.
Before the council voted Monday, only residents with at least an acre of property could keep chickens. The amendment basically provides for a trial run that council members can review in late 2013.
“There may be a number of people that find out that caring for an animal of that nature isn’t their cup of tea,” Walker said. “But there’s a lot of people that may have fun with it, too.”
In Manchester, city officials last fall rejected a request for a zoning variance to allow a man to raise 10 chickens in a small coop at his home at the corner of Amherst and Belmont streets.
Manchester city ordinances classify chickens as livestock, which require a minimum of one acre for one animal and another quarter-acre for additional members of the herd or flock.