Maplewood, N.J. Residents Screaming Fowl Over Proposed Chicken Ordinance

Others Wonder Aloud What The Big Deal Is; Pilot Program Possible In 2012

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a lot of squawking going on in one New Jersey town. There’s a backyard squabble going on over barnyard fowl.

Some Maplewood residents are upset over chickens that may come here to roost.

Ellen Davenport told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan her township is not the place for residents to have chickens in their backyards.

“I think if you’re not living in the country, and you don’t have a barn and a farm … I think it’s very difficult to impose that on people who may not want it,” Davenport said.

A proposed city ordinance would allow up to 15 households to raise as many as three hens for egg production, and would limit the size of the chicken coops and runs. Also, anyone wanting chickens would have to get their neighbors’ approval.

“Kids love farm animals. It’s a great thing to have in your yard for kids; fresh eggs in the morning. My sister raises chickens out in the country, and I’d love to be able to do it here,” resident Jennifer Bass said.

“I think it is an experience for the kids that’s positive. It’s a living thing. They used to do it all the time … have chickens, so why not?” added resident Caroline Farnsworth.

Opponents of the ordinance say chicken feed would attract rats, that the bird’s waste would run off onto other properties, and that the backyard coops would diminish property values.

“It’s nearly impossible I think to keep chickens and not have it impact your immediate neighbors here,” Ken Pettis said.

As a young girl, Ruth Ross lived on a chicken farm in Toms River. She said many of the concerns are unfounded.

“There was no odor and there were no rats … and there were a lot of chickens,” Ross said. “I’m not sure what the reaction of these people is based on. Some of it — at least in my sense — was a little hysterical.”

The ordinance, if approved, will create a one-year pilot program that will begin March 1, 2012.

A public hearing will be held on Oct. 18, and the township committee will hold a final vote on the ordinance.

What do you think? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Ruth E. Ross

    WOW – What a lot of squawking and some of the prior comments in favor – and I am one that is in favor – are quite substantial, I must say. And those people that are opposed, as far as I’ve heard and read, do not present any substantive information. And, since I am Ruth Ross, I agree and if it were up to me, it could be next door.

  • Maple Valley Farm

    Chickens make less of a mess, less noise, and require less care then dogs and cats. People who think they are a nuisance simply lack the knowledge of these wonderful creatures. They should go visit a home with pet chickens and then they can make a more educated decision. Dogs on a run have more of an issue with waste then chickens in a pen, I know from experience. I have 50 chickens and 2 dogs. As for property value, I would NEVER buy a home in an area that doesn’t allow people to keep chickens. Another law is more likely to frighten people away from purchasing homes there then a few pretty birds who lay fresh and healthy eggs for their people. They are also extremely personable especially in small flocks. They quickly end up with names and welcome their “people” when they see them. All 50 of mine follow me around the yard, it is quite a sight to see a large mixed flock of chickens following a person around.

  • DorothyGale

    For the last 2 years we have had 4 hens in our small yard with NO rat problems. We remove the food nightly from the coop to reduce any risk of vermin. The coop was designed to prevent animals from digging into the coop. The hens have wonderful personalities and are a delight to have as pets. As for the chicken poop, we weekly clean out the run/hen house and use the waste in the compost pile. Good luck to those in NJ who want to raise hens!!

  • tnpitgal

    Hens make wonderful pets! They are a lot smarter than I ever thought and just make you laugh watching them. They’ll even get along with dogs, cats, and children. An added benefit is the eggs. Sealed cantainers for chicken feed are widely available to prevent any mouse or rat problem. As for noise, do not keep any roosters.

  • Chickenhead

    must be a slow day at CBS!

    • MissTee

      I live in another state and many of my neighbors have chickens. This is a very urban area as well, not “out in the country” by any stretch of the imagination. We don’t have any problems with them. They are not noisy except for the occasional rooster. But those are not as loud as airplanes or even some of the neighborhood dogs.

      Plus, fresh eggs are awesome.

  • s stone

    There is a substantial rat problem in some neighborhoods of Maplewood that has not been rectified. Chicken coops attract rodents. Until the town can take care of the rodents they shouldn’t allow the coops. In addition, its not all about ‘wow eggs!’ – The expense to you to raise chickens far outweighs the cost of eggs. There are over 100 local wonderful NJ farms to stop by with your family and buy fresh eggs and suport – instead of raising chickens in too small plots. You can even head over to Whole Foods which carries even heritage breed eggs that are amazing.
    Just try and sit outside in the spring and summer for a BBQ with your friends and family and listen to chickens, their smell, the feces (and fecal runoff into your property) and watch your property value drop when selling your house becomes a difficult task. I wouldn’t buy a house if my neighbor had a coop in their backyard. We don’t have farms in Maplewood. This proposal is wrong for Maplewood. There are so many other ways to be ‘green’ the whole town can get behind. Plan family trips to local farms for instance.

    • out of towner

      Try to sit outside and listen to dogs, their smell, the feces and runoff into your property and watch your property value drop. I wouldn’t buy a house if my neighbor had dogs in their backyard. This is wrong for a suburban area.
      Chickens on the other hand do not smell, are quiet and create the best compost available for growing wonderful fresh vegetables. Using this open space to produce food is a wonderful and easy way to be green.
      Plan family trips to kennels to see dogs.

    • Ozarkhomesteader

      Did you know that chickens can help control rodent problems? Chickens kill rodents. Properly maintained coops don’t smell. I get frustrated when people who don’t know about chickens won’t give it a try.

    • ION Fam

      They are talking 3 chickens, that’s not enough to cause a runoff problem. We’re not talking factory farm here. Hens are not noisy, I have more problem listening to people’s dogs barking and children screaming. As far as the coops, some of them are more nicely done that people’s houses and are no worse than having a shed in the backyard. It sounds as if you are biased against chickens and misinformed. It is about more than eggs, it is a great family experience that doesn’t require fossil fuel to go experience.

  • Beth

    People have chickens in Brooklyn and Queens and there are no issues with rats in the completely urban setting. Roosters are an issue because they’re noisy but there’s nothing wrong with chickens.

  • decalman2009

    There is nothing wrong with having a couple of chickens,they make great pets,and they give fresh eggs everyday,if I wasn’t afraid of the neighbors dogs getting them, I would get two

  • Bob

    Allow the chickens. They present no danger and in every respect they’re less of a bother to others than dogs.

  • M Craig

    Please sign the petition against this. Our lots are too small for this and the desire of few should not override the desire of many!

    • KPMc

      Actually it is ‘the desires of many should not infringe on the rights of the few’.

    • Urban Farmer

      Nonsense. 4 hens will not produce any runoff problems. Properly maintained chickens are less of a nuisance than dogs. I know from experience… I live in a town neighboring maplewood and am raising 3 hens. Never a rat or a complaint from neighbors. No smells and you wouldnt even realize they were there unless you walked into my yard.

      Get the facts instead of making up problems that don’t exist.

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