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.

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