Where can I find city ordinance on chickens for Fitchburg, MA

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by Carlos142, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Carlos142

    Carlos142 New Egg

    Feb 16, 2011
    I spoke to the Building Commissioner who told me I need 5+ acres to have any birds, but I looked through the city code and couldn't find this. I found a section that discussed needing 5+ acres for commercial agriculture/farming, but that's not my intention. Any ideas where I should look?
  2. homesteady

    homesteady Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 23, 2011
    Hey there, not sure about the local laws, but the umass ext. office may be able to answer some questions.
    UMass Extension Worcester Center
    237 Chandler Street
    Worcester, MA 01609-2935
    P: (508) 831-1223
    F: (508) 831-0120
  3. sherrydeanne

    sherrydeanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi, I'm in Fitchburg too [​IMG] The problem is that there aren't really any rules. Take a look at the zone map and see where you fall. I know of a person zoned R1 (city) that did have a problem but I'm out in R2 and no sweat. I know another lady up on Rindge road who hasn't had any problems either. If your neighbors are ok, you should be fine. A few years ago a family got permission to keep a pony within city limits so they're not exactly strict about it.
  4. LaNeia

    LaNeia Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2013
    Fitchburg, Massachusetts
    I know a little late - but I wanted to leave this for anyone else looking at this now - one of the Ward Councilors has proposed an update to the ordinance to allow for chicken use for non-commercial purposes of those with less than 5+ acres .On 3/27/13, the Planning Board is supposed to meet to discuss and then potentially make recommendations to the city councilors. I am suspecting this has a bit of a ways to go, but at least the process is started.

    My husband told me that while the current ordinance states the 5+ acres for the "right to farm" is in place, it really doesn't disallow chickens for people with less than 5+ acres. However, someone did tell me they heard of chickens being confiscated in 2 instances.

    I think a lot has to do with your neighbors and their buy-in and also how well you care for your little friends.

    Good luck to all who ALSO want the right to farm (even if on a smaller scale).
  5. miquwid

    miquwid Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 14, 2013
    Western NY
    My Coop

    http://www.ci.fitchburg.ma.us/government/departments/planning-zoning/Zoning Map.pdf


    Belmont, MA. Allows up to 5 hens in an inspected coop. Contact the animal control division or public health department and they will inspect the coop for adequate size and placement.
    Boston, MA. All residential zones in Boston forbid "auxilliary keeping of animals", which includes poultry and other livestock.
    Brockton, MA. Hens are allowed, but roosters are not.
    Cambridge, MA. Nowhere are chickens mentioned in the city codes. The city itself comments that as long as the chickens are "pets", there is nothing to enforce or not enforce.
    Chelmsford, MA. Must apply for a permit in order to keep chickens, subject to town Board of Health regulations.
    Lynn, MA. You have to go to all your neighbors and have them sign a petition stating that they would not have any problems with you having the hens. If you have complaints from neighbors about your chickens, you are subject to a fine of $1000.00 per day.
    Plymouth, MA. As of 2010, there are no rules on the books related to the keeping of chickens. A rep at the Health Department advised one chicken owner: "Just keep them clean and don't bother the neighbors."
    Somerville, MA. There are no rules about keeping chickens, male or female, so long as none of them violate the noise ordinances (thus indirectly prohibiting roosters). If people complain about the noise, the chickens might have to go.
    Northampton, MA. A maximum of three hens allowed; no roosters.
    Springfield, MA. Keeping chickens is technically illegal in this city.
    Somerset, MA. The entire town is zoned agricultural. No limits on the amount of chickens allowed. You are asked to submit a plan for your management of manure.
    Wenham, MA. Poultry allowed, but the town may restrict your operation if it causes a public nuisance (noise) or public health issues (disease).
    Westfield, MA. Chickens not allowed. No "livestock." Maximum of five cats and dogs.
    Westwood, MA. Up to 10 fowl allowed on lots less than 40,000 sq. feet, Coop must be 15 feet from property lines. Permit application must include site plan. $10 annual permit fee and BOH inspection prior to issuance of the permit. Cockerels must be kept 1,000 feet from property lines.

    Okay so like one said there is no actual law for that particular city. I would try with talking to someone in the county or state department in reference to this. Seems like they have to be "pets and clean with your average 4sqft per chicken of space with a built in run with addition space stay away from free ranging becuae of the lack of rules, and no roosters again from lack of rules."

    I hope this helps. Good luck
    1 person likes this.
  6. liljunie

    liljunie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2013
    One think I found out by calling our MA State NPIP inspector is that is illegal to bring any poultry into MA that is not NPIP certified, or eggs that are not from an NPIP flock. Some of my eggs are not from NPIP flock...this is a biosecurity breach.
  7. FestiveChicken

    FestiveChicken Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 23, 2010
    We have had our girls for 5 years now. Only had one "run in" with the animal control officer. And that was after the ice storm. We argued over the definition of "livestock vs pet" She backed off. No problems since. But my neighbors dont complain since we keep our girls area clean.

    All my girls are from hatcheries- Ideal. None are from chicken stocks.
    I have 7 hens and am well within the city limits. Backyard city chickens are growing in number here in the 'burg. Recently, while walking my dog I noticed a coop with some hens within walking distance to my house. There are also several people that have racing pigeons in my area. That said there are bigger issues that the city should be concerned about. Like loose dogs, gangs, guns, trash being left everywhere and the amount of business's leaving the city and the lack of small business's coming in.

    We will be going to the meeting on April 2nd at Memorial. My chickens occupy the same love in my heart that my dog, cats, rabbits and my horse have. And that is darn close to the spot filled by my daughter and husband,
    They are our pets. Each has her own personality. I keep them fed, watered, wormed and well cared for. The coop and run are kept clean. My neighbors LOVE them and have no complaints. And no. I do not provide free eggs. They know to knock on the door if they want or need them. Other than that we give them to family and family friends. We do not have a rooster(IMHO NO ONE living in a city needs to have a rooster)

    That said, I think that the move by the city councilor here is in direct response to a recent report of cock fighting and of birds being kept IN a home permanently. I will admit that I have taken mine inside when they are "off" Or the temps stay well below freezing for several days at a time. But then they are caged and in the basement. Not being kept in kitchen cabinets.

    Over all I am fine with having a license and small fee to have them. I need a license to have my dog. My chickens are quieter and dont run the streets like the dogs around here do. Well, not mine. Only time he is out is on a leash. Its not safe for him any other way.
    No one is going to be looking out their kitchen windows at a stray chicken wondering if it is friendly or not. Or if its safe to try and make it to their car because the neighbors have a small flock of chickens in the back yard. And no one can say that they were woken up by a clucking or singing hen. AOn my street we are woken up at all hours by barking dogs, car alarms and drunk FSU students leaving their cars on our street and walking to campus after a night drinking in Leominster or Worcester.

    My hope is that those of us that already have girls in the backyard can come together and educate the council members and any anti back yard chicken folks that will be there. Even if it is a long process. I would rather them take the time to be educated and such, than to make a possible knee jerk reaction based on some people that may be equally un educated on the joys and "green ness" of keeping a few hens in the back yard.
  8. LaNeia

    LaNeia Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2013
    Fitchburg, Massachusetts
    It would be great to have as much support as we can at the April meeting. Also, the Planning Board is meeting next Wednesday. What happened was, my husband and I have been wanting backyard chickens for quite a while. We were just going to get them (about 2 years ago), but we held off. My husband did not want ANYONE coming and taking our chickens and so we just sat on the idea for a while. But we talked to a lot of other people who already had chickens themselves and they kept saying to just go ahead and get them.

    However, last year, I told my Ward Councilor (Dolores) about our ideas for the chickens and it was suggested we go to the city with an ordinance petition, which is what we did.

    With an ordinance request, we were hoping to have it such that anyone below the 5 acres can raise backyard chickens. After hearing from a few city officials/departments and concerns from the Planning Board, AND from looking into what other similar cities and towns have implemented, we came up with the first draft of ideas for the ordinance language (coop set backs from abutters, etc.).

    I am not experienced at all and it would be really great to have much more input into the language. If we get this passed, it will be our regs. The Planning Board hears the proposed language and makes a recommendation to the City Council. Then, the Council holds their public meeting in April and then can vote on it.

    The Planning Board's recommendations are considered, but if they give a negative opinion it does not mean the ordinance is dead. We still can work with the Councilors to get something done.

    We need help though spreading the word so people know what's going on - we finally have our chance to get something legal on the books so that one cranky neighbor doesn't spoil the party for everyone.
  9. LaNeia

    LaNeia Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2013
    Fitchburg, Massachusetts
    Exactly, there are a lot more REAL disturbances going on than a flock of hens in someone's backyard. If we can address people's concerns (they are too close to the neighbor's yard, run-off waste is pooling directly into a neighbor's yard, they aren't kept clean, the coop is 20 feet high and is unsafe etc.) we should have a chance of getting this done. People who want to keep chickens are probably a lot more conscientious than most. It is an investment getting everything set up. I sure the heck don't want anyone taking my girls when I get them. So I'm going to do all I can to make sure they aren't bothering anyone.
  10. FestiveChicken

    FestiveChicken Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 23, 2010
    We will be there. I will be educating people so that I am allowed to keep my girls.

    If the city decides against back yard chicken keeping, now that it is being brought to their attention. My hope is that they allow those of us that have had our pets all this time, to be grandfathered and we be allowed to keep our current small flocks, til we either move outside of the city. Or the flock dies.

    Like I said before. I checked with my neighbors. They had, and still have, no issues with them. No rooster = no noise. No slaughter = no well... ewww
    Cleaning them = less odor. Not none. But hey. Dog poop left piling up stinks to high heaven as well.

    I only have a few more years left here in the city. I dont want to be fighting to keep my pets the entire time. We were happily living our lives over here with no issues. And I dont want them now.

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