Hearing tomorrow, all of our neighbors and 10 others are against our coop. Any tips?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by detz, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. detz

    detz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So from what we've gathered two neighbors had complaints and one of them actually went around to the rest of the neighborhood and got other people onboard probably by using false information. The board of health is having a hearing tomorrow which their complaints (below) will be brought up and I have a chance (although slim) to answer questions to get approval. As the lady from the board of health said, "It doesn't look good". I'm looking for tips from people who have been through it or just general facts (with sources) I can use to rebuttal the complaints. Thanks.

    First letter
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    As direct abutters to --, we are contacting the Board of Health to formally inform you that we strongly oppose the application to permit our neighbor to keep chickens. We noticed that the neighbor has already built and installed a small structure (** It's a playhouse my brother built my kids **) that looks like a chicken coop in their backyard and it is just 4 to 6 feet from our property.
    We oppose this application for several reasons that are described below:
    1. Allergies - One member of our household has severe allergies to many different allergens. One of the strongest allergies of this individual is to bird feathers, bird dust and mites. These allergies have been tested, diagnosed and documented by a Physician (Allergy Specialist). We are concerned that the installation of this coop will cause severe allergic reactions and poor health for this family member, given how close this coop is to our property.
    (** There are bids all over our town including wild turkeys that like in the trees right next to their house **)

    2. Odor - (a) Our neighbors at -- were very dismayed when they heard about this application. Among other negatives, they are most concerned about the odor caused from chicken waste. They have a vacation home in Maine and their neighbor uses chicken waste as a fertilizer. On days he fertilizes, the smell is so strong and disagreeable, that they must close all of their windows and sometimes are forced to leave their cottage. (b) We have a friend in Westford who has a neighbor with a small backyard chicken coop that is near their home. They describe the odor as unbearable on many days and are in a protracted legal battle with the town and neighbor to have the chickens removed. (c) Also, we have noticed that the neighbor at -- has also constructed a large compost bin (next to the coop) that is even closer to our property (just 1-3 feet). We are concerned that the chicken waste will be dumped with garbage into this bin and the source of odor will be even closer to us. (d) There are several internet sites that list odor as a major concern for neighbors of urban chicken coops.
    3. Vermin, Insects and Predators - A major concern is that this chicken coop will attract vermin such as rats and mice to our yard. Rats are very difficult to eradicate once they are established. Insects are also a problem as flies, cockroaches and other disease carrying insects are attracted to the mess associated with these coops. We have had trouble with raccoons in our neighborhood and this coop will intensify this activity. Finally, we have had sightings of coyotes and foxes in our neighborhood resulting in fear for neighborhood children and pets. We believe that these predators will be more attracted to our neighborhood that has many families with small children and pets and that this coop will put them in danger.
    4. Noise - By many accounts, the number one problem from backyard chicken coops is the noise. Both friends that describe the intense odor problem (No. 2 above) also note that they are often awakened as early as 3:30 - 4 AM by the noise of the chickens. While roosters crow early, loudly and often, hens also make a huge racket. Chickens squabble all day long, and plenty of cackling accompanies the activity. Many websites maintain this is a major complaint from neighbors of a backyard chicken coop.
    5. Disease - Research has shown that germs from chickens can cause a variety of illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses that can cause death. In recent years, several hundred human Salmonella outbreaks associated with live poultry contact from backyard chicken coops have been reported to the CDC. It’s quite common for chickens to carry Salmonella, which is a type of germ that naturally lives in the intestines of many animals and is shed in their droppings or feces. Live poultry may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (including feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can also get on cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. Additionally, the germs can be found on the hands, shoes, and clothing of those who handle the birds or work or play where they live and roam. Due to a serious medical condition, one member of our household has a severely depressed immune system which makes this family member much more susceptible to infections and diseases. This person enjoys gardening in the backyard which is just a few feet from the proposed coop. If this family member contracts Salmonella it could have a devastating and debilitating and potentially lethal health effect. Salmonella is currently a rural problem, why make it an urban problem? Why risk bringing Salmonella to our neighborhood?
    We have lived at this location since 1988 and have tried to be friendly and accommodating to our neighbors. We feel that since the neighbor has already installed the coop near our property without approval, this presumptuous act already demonstrates disregard for neighbors and local laws. We are very concerned and have been in touch with our attorney.
    In conclusion, we vehemently oppose the application of this permit as it will lower the quality of our life, create an unnecessary nuisance close to our property, attract disease-carrying rodents to our neighborhood, lower property values and potentially will engage all parties involved in protracted legal action.
    Please consider our objection and do not allow this permit.
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    Second letter (This has an attachment showing all the houses in the neighborhood that oppose the coop.)

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    Anyone who has been near a commercial chicken operation and/or visited a local farm where chickens are kept, have undoubtedly experienced some unpleasant scents. This is true even if the coops are cleanly regularly. Scaling the size of the operation (6 to 10 chickens) to fit a ¼ acre lot does not change this fact. Keeping chickens in a neighborhood where house lots are ¼ acre or smaller raises concerns for the neighbors in general and especially for abutting neighbors. In the case of --, bedrooms are less than 30 feet from the property line.

    Concerns include:
    Chickens can smell bad and may attract flies. The dominant wind direction on Melrose Ave is WNW (April through June) & NNW (July through September). This would direct any scent toward 33 Melrose Bedrooms & backyard.
    Responsible waste management.
    Spilled chicken food can attract rats and mice.
    The hen house may encourage local predators including foxes, skunks, weasels, and fisher cats.
    Noise – Hens also make a racket. Chickens squabble all day long, and plenty of cackling usually accompanies the activity. Admittedly, hens are not as noisy as roosters, but with the lot size being ¼ acre this will be without question a problem for abutting neighbors.
    Ignoring these concerns would be irresponsible and would have quality of life ramifications for abutting and non-abutting neighbors.
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    Thank you.
     
  2. detz

    detz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any articles about successful setups or myths debunked would be appreciated. I'm sure I've read the opposite from all the complaints before, the allergy one might be our biggest issue.
     
  3. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A hearing tomorrow hardly gives you time to get your presentation in order.

    First off, what's the Zoning board have to say? The Board of Health really has no weight in the matter if you are zoned for BYC. You've got to come up with documented studies and "experts" (extension office? Land grant school articles...) not opinion. However, on the opinion side: Allergies. If you have a feather allergy, than you don't wear a down parka, you don't have a down comforter or pillow. Inside allergens are much more potent than outside ones. They can't control a migrating flock of swallows. Is the neighborhood banned from putting out bird feeders? Don't want those birds lurking around. Say they had a cat allergy. Does that mean the neighbors can't have cats?

    Odor, again opinion, my chickens don't smell. A compost bin if done correctly does not smell either (that's easy to prove). The biggest bonus of the compost bin (if you live at all in a progressive area) is it is eco friendly. You are keeping 100's of # of organic waste (grass clippings, leaves, wood ash....) out of the landfill. You are producing rich organic matter that in turn reduces your dependence on chemicals for your garden and landscaping. Anyone who has enough land to have a lawn should have a compost bin. Chicken waste is high in N which a good active compost pile needs to facilitate the breakdown of C. When it's dry, it has no odor, if it's slimy and wet, it will smell. I don't know how much waste one chicken on average produces but I would take an educated stab that it's less than 2 oz per day dry matter. How much does an average 60# dog produce? Where's that ending up? What are the health risks with dog and cat feces? Those are well documented. One problem you will see with compost bins is the stray dog or wildlife getting into it when you make bad choices for what to throw in it. It's only organic waste. No meat, no bones. Compromise is to have it in a bin (like a spinning barrel) not directly on the ground. Looks cleaner too. It will probably heat up faster killing any pathogens in the chicken poop.

    Vermin. Wake up people. They are already there. They know what day is garbage day. They know who has bird feeders, They know who feeds their cats outside. The smarter ones know who stores their dog food in the garage. You have a vested interest in keeping them out because they want to eat your hens. You aren't going to take shortcuts here. Insects, I can attest that since I got chickens, my bugs population is down. I no longer use any pesticides on the garden or flowerbeds. Ticks? best defense ever.

    Noise. Yes chickens make noise but so do dogs, cars, children, wild birds.... So you agree that there will be no roosters. That's an easy compromise.

    Health, Yes chicken can spread salmonella but wild birds the usually the vector for that. Agree that your chickens will not free range and wild birds will not have access to your coop and run (completely covered and when out they are confined in a tractor). You really do not want song birds in your coop, They can move in in the winter and double your feed bill. Again bring up the cat and dog poop. What about the bunnies, turkeys, pigeons...?

    Include the life lessons chickens will provide for your children (no eggs do not come from the grocery store).

    Do any of these people have dog runs in their backyards and where are they in terms of property lines?

    Good luck! If nothing else work to get this tabled to a later date so you can get more information together and provide adequate feedback to their concerns.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  4. detz

    detz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great info, thanks. We were supposed to get a letter with information but I emailed this morning to check on things and they sent me back saying the hearing is tomorrow here is what your neighbors said. Maybe intentional so I can't prepare? The entire neighborhood has dogs and everyone (except us whose dog is fenced in) lets their dog roam and crap on everyones lawn. We also have wild turkeys everywhere, they roost closer to the neighbors yard then our coop would be but they haven't complained about them. It's just old people complaining because they don't want change or as the one person things it's like a commercial hen house that would stink and cause disease which is exactly why we're doing this.

    Reading over previous notes it appears the board of health knows the answers to most (smell, disease) but they've rejected two people in the past because of the "allergy" excuse which seems asinine which is why I'm worried. I should call some Doctors and ask the question to get some factual information.
     
  5. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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  6. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have all the information from the other 2 and whey they were rejected? They need to be there at the hearing as well. Is this neighbors on all sides or just one?

    Have pictures. Turkeys, the play house, roaming dogs and their presents, layout of your backyard, schematics of your proposed coop and run, Show them that 4 hens only require a 4x6 coop and 6x10 attached run (6x14 total footprint don't skimp or you might be held to that #, You can do down but not up once you tell them what you need). That's about the same size as a doghouse and run. Do you have access to Animal Control complaints about dogs barking, dogs roaming, cats, raccoons....?

    You still have to be ready tomorrow. Start by informing the board that you only had 24 hours to prepare (what's the date on the complaint?) and request to table it until next month's board meeting, They'll say no but you are on the record of protesting their timeline. You might have to go in front of the board multiple times but keep after it! It will be hard to be non combative so keep that here. There is such a swell of self sustaining you'll get it eventually.
     
  7. Czarben

    Czarben Out Of The Brooder

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    1. Salmonella isn't airborne. If they're not in your yard handling your chickens and droppings, then they're safe.
    2. What are they doing to keep other wild birds away from their property?
    3. My chickens aren't nearly as noisy as wild birds, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, cars, the wind, etc.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Christin

    Christin Out Of The Brooder

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    I would simply bring up that it is against your constitutional rights to keep you from keeping a flock to feed your family and also that there is no law to keep you from using compost in your garden. Then I would go through a very lengthy speech about your right to provide for your family in any way that you see fit, that your birds are contained in your yard so they are not posing a health risk, why you feel that they are taking your right to teach your children because they learn a great deal while helping you keep the chickens, fertilize and grow your garden, and to top it off that they have no right to impede your right to pursue happiness which you find in keeping chickens. Fight for the right to eat whats good for you! I live inside city limits and they have an ordnance that bans having chickens inside city limits but every time we get a new cop and he tries to bring it up we just tell him to go ask the mayor why he would be allowed to have chicken inside city limits but not us and it shuts them up pretty quick! I plan on getting turkeys and ducks this year and I am sure that if I sell some to the mayor I will be able to keep them......... My neighbors actually had a goat last year! We live on the outskirts of town and it is a VERY small town and our neighbors do not mind us having them even though we call about their dogs trying to eat them in their pen(Though last spring I had a mascovy duck that changed their Chihuahuas minds because he kicked their buts! But them someone stole my birds and I had to start over!) So tips would also be to gather as many people as possible that want to keep chickens and petition the city to change their ordinance to accommodate the peoples wants and needs
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  9. matt44644

    matt44644 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    "potentially will engage all parties involved in protracted legal action."

    These neighbors are going to be problems,and most likely will become NFH.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
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  10. detz

    detz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As much as I would love to take that approach (which I might have to if they deny it) I think taking the educated friendly approach is a safer first step. :)
     
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