Thursday, April 26, 2012

Urban chickens get another year to roost



26 Apr 2012 03:10AM

A Fredericton woman whose one-year experiment with urban chicken-keeping hasn’t ruffled any feathers amongst her neighbours has received a one-year temporary use variance to continue keeping three hens for a second year.

Hazel Richardson said Wednesday she was pleased to hear the city’s planning department will lay out a definitive process to allow other urbanites to keep backyard hens in residential zones as part of a review of the city’s umbrella zoning bylaw.

The planning advisory committee a year ago approved pilot projects, one on either side of the St. John River, and neither experiment appears to have caused alarm.

Initially, residents expressed concerns to the committee about the notion of allowing chickens to be kept in backyard pens for home egg production. Those fears ranged from the possibilities of odour and noise to disease transmission and threats from predators.

“They are going to look into how the bylaw is going to be changed, so you know what size of property, the distance from neighbouring properties and that kind of thing,” Richardson said. “The city have been very good to work with. They’ve been very clear and transparent. I set out to do the pilot to show whether there would be issues and there haven’t been any reported.”

Richardson, who lives at the lower end of Hanwell Road, built a backyard chicken coop and screened it with lattice at the request of her immediate neighbour. Other nearby residents were surprised to learn that Richardson and her family are scrupulous about the removal of chicken manure, distributing it to gardeners who take away quantities for composting, while they also retain small amounts of the chicken waste for their own garden composter.

The city’s planning department confirmed Richardson’s experiment has gone well over the past year.

“There have been no complaints from the neighbours regarding any of the initial concerns for having a backyard hen operation in a residential zone ... Many neighboring residents did not even know that she kept hens in her backyard until The Daily Gleaner published an article about it,” said a report handed to the committee Wednesday evening at its meeting.

The northside hen-keeping operation is ending of its own accord as the property owner in that case is moving to a more rural setting.


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