Looking for advice to appeal an ordiance

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by john14six, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. john14six

    john14six Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Before I got my chickens I did a search on my local Town's website to find out about any ordinances for chickens. I couldn't find anything so I assumed we could. Now that we have the chickens, it has been brought to our attention through a local newspaper article that my town does have an ordinance for livestock. Now I want to make things right and I went to the Town Hall for more information.

    This is what she gave me when I asked her I wanted to get chickens. She said, you want to start a farm. I said no. I just want to get chickens. I said I do not have 5 acres, is this a lost cause, she said to put in a request and see what happens. So she gave me the impression it may not be hopeless.

    Here's what the ordinance says:

    They have a table of Permitted Principal Uses
    Then it says Agricultural Uses: Use of land for the primary purpose of agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, or viticulture on a parcel of more than five acres in area.

    I looked up the definition of agriculture and this is what Webster's dictionary says:
    "the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products : farming"

    My agruement is that this is not our PRIMARY PURPOSE or USE of our land. Our primary purpose is residential. And, we are not doing this for the prepartions and marketing of the resulting products. This is for our own personal use.

    We did discuss maybe getting more chickens at some point (we have 12 now) and thought about selling the eggs. (just to help offset the cost of feed etc.) But after reading the definition, I am thinking we no longer will have that option if we want a chance of keeping the chickens. We will just keep the eggs for our own personal use and not get any additional chickens other than 1 or 2 to check out different breeds, going to the local fairs etc.

    We have about an acre and half of land. The neighbor to the left of me is my brother and he does not mind we have chickens. The neighbor to my right also has no objections. We have a total of 7 houses on my cul-de-sac, and I've talked with 3 other neighbors - so all but 1 and no one objects. We all have roughly the same acreage, give a take a little. We have a small brooke running in our backyard which separates us from the other streets in the neighbor. We think we might have a rooster (we ordered hens and may have gotten 1 rooster). We could easily get rid of the rooster if he becomes an issue, but even our neighbors know about him and they don't care.

    I'm looking for advice/opinions on this. I plan to write to the Town Community Developer and explain our situation. I plan to be upfront and tell them we have chickens now and I am requesting permission to keep them. I plan to give them the benefits of keeping chickens, and I thought I would have my kids write a letter as well from their point of view. we are a homeschool family of 5 children and the reason we got chickens were the fresh eggs, tick and bug control, fertilizer for our small garden, homeschool educational purposes for the kids.

    What do you think?

    Thanks
     
  2. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,867
    15
    171
    Jul 26, 2009
    I think you're asking for trouble and I certainly wouldn't just let them know you're already in violation of their ordinance. They'll be out there in a heartbeat and give you a get rid of the chickens or else notice. They may already, depending upon whether the woman you spoke with called code enforcement.

    Its good to be proactive in a way, but it will also tip them off. You potentially could go years without a problem. Hard to say.

    Ultimately, it's your call. It will be interesting to see what other folks think about this.
     
  3. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Livestock doesn't always include chickens since you haven't said where this is we can't even go looking for the code, it is important to have all of the code, especially the definitions and rules of construction.
     
  4. john14six

    john14six Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Hi,
    sorry that would help. Hudson, NH

    We are prepared to give up the chickens if we are in violation. We are no less guilty for our ignorance. But we did tell the kids we would try and see if we could be granted permission as we read the ordiance we are questioning whether we are even in violation.


    I was just curious if some people that are more familiar with town ordinances like this if someone out there thinks we have a chance.
    Or advice on what information should be contained in the letter to help further our cause. And maybe help others in our town. I know of other families who have them now. Probably unaware like us. I know some families that had them and no longer do and wondering if they got rid of them because of the ordinance and didnt bother trying to make some type of appeal.

    These are houses that I've just seen in my neighborhood with chickens, not enough to talk with them.


    Thanks again for feedback on this.
     
  5. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Hudson New Hampshire's code can be found on-line at http://www.ecode360.com/?custId=HU1110 the rules of construction say that to be a legal use it must be specifically allowed by the code.

    Agricultural uses of any kind are only allowed on lots of five or more acres which is likely only the case because of New Hampshire's State Statues (but I haven't checked this).

    You can ask for a variance it may or may not be granted, your request needs to go to the zoning board of appeals.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  6. Mark & Nique

    Mark & Nique Chillin' With My Peeps

    235
    0
    99
    Jun 20, 2010
    South Carolina
    Do you have a church member/friend/family member who is an attorney? If so, it can be very helpful to meet with her/him to understand the codes and jargon. Good luck!
     
  7. john14six

    john14six Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    Jun 2, 2010
    Quote:Yes, I have the zoning ordinance and the correct wording is "Use of land for the primary purpose of agriculture..."
    We are not using our land for the primary purpose of agriculture. Our primary purpose is residential - chickens are educational purposes (we homeschool), pets (kids play with them, care for them, named them etc), a hobby I guess.

    Thanks for the response. Going to look more into it and probably make a request to the zoning board for a variance???
     
  8. PineappleMama

    PineappleMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I agree that PRIMARY is the key word there. For that same reason you can have a veggie garden on your less than 5acre property, but not be considered a Farm/Ag Zone.

    It is also interesting to me that they mention the marketing, but not the SALE of products. There is a difference. "Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services." Marketing companies don't sell anything but their marketing skills. They don't actually go out and sell the pop tarts, just create the ads for them. So... I guess if you put up a sign, drew attention to your birds, aka create customer interest... then you'd be Ag... but if you just mind your own, eat your eggs... then you aren't.

    Between those two tidbits (but mostly the first) there shouldn't be any problem... IF this is the only mention anywhere about it. Now if within regular pet codes (since yours aren't Ag they may be tagged pet) there's anything about a limit of total pets on a property it could be an issue.

    Now, I'm not a lawyer at all, but primary is a pretty simple word... your primary purpose is HOME, residential... not commercial in any way. That alone should mean they leave you alone, IF they obey their own laws that is.

    The one good thing about going on record as having chickens... if they decide to tweak this law just to be buttheads then you'll be grandfathered... if GFing works where you are... so that could be handy.
     
  9. tasymo

    tasymo Chillin' With My Peeps

    200
    0
    132
    Jul 24, 2008
    Mulliken
    Keep in mind that every town is different. In my case, my Village had an ordinance on the books that prohibited chickens, only because they had used the ordinances from a neighboring town as a template when ours were created, years ago. When I looked into it (and waved the Michigan Right to Farm Act in their faces) the Village council easily conceded that they could not keep me from having chickens. Our Village, however, is a very laid back, live and let live kind of place. As long as there aren't major issues and numerous complaints, most of the ordinances on the books aren't really enforced. If you live in a town where the local officials and/or residents are more nit picky, or like to throw thier weight around, it would be a different story. Since you already have the birds, and their set-up, I would just let it ride, but have a back up plan if they decide enforce the ordinance. Good Luck!
     
  10. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Quote:Yes, I have the zoning ordinance and the correct wording is "Use of land for the primary purpose of agriculture..."
    We are not using our land for the primary purpose of agriculture. Our primary purpose is residential - chickens are educational purposes (we homeschool), pets (kids play with them, care for them, named them etc), a hobby I guess.

    Thanks for the response. Going to look more into it and probably make a request to the zoning board for a variance???

    You should note that the only permitted agricultural use in any form what so ever is on lots of five or more acres since the only time agriculture appears in either table is that one and all uses not permitted are illegal (those rules of construction).

    Just because a residence exists on a lot doesn't prevent the primary use from being agricultural.

    You are mixing up two separate things.

    As for gardening I would think that 674:32-c Other General Provisions. of New Hampshire State Statutes would apply.

    In order to slaughter animals you need 8 or more acres of land and obey restrictions as to setbacks etc.. of the slaughtering building as out lined in state statues.

    You should be getting the feeling that there is more than one place you need to look in order to understand exactly what you can and can not do with the piece of land you (think you) own.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by