October 24, 2021

Homer finalizes chicken proposal

The Homer Town Board has agreed on a compromise plan to allow landowners in residential zones to keep chickens and other fowl, under certain conditions, without the need for a special use permit or variance and plans a public hearing July 7 to hear comments.

“I think this is a very good example of compromise,” town Supervisor Fred Forbes said at a town board meeting Wednesday.

“I think it’s probably going to satisfy most of the people out there,” said board member Kevin Williams, who drafted the proposal after consulting with residents and others.

Forbes had initiated the discussion months ago suggesting a minimum lot size for keeping chickens without approval of the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The plan unanimously accepted by the board Wednesday will be subject to a public hearing at the board’s July 7 meeting and a vote to approve it will likely follow at that meeting.

The proposal would allow people to keep chickens, ducks and other fowl in residential districts as long as:

  • The poultry and eggs are for the personal use or consumption of the residents of that property.
  • There are no roosters, unless they are kept at least 250 feet from any neighboring residence. A variance from the ZBA will be needed if they are kept less than 250 feet away.
  • The poultry is not allowed to roam free and is confined by an agricultural type fence.
  • Any accessory buildings containing poultry are kept at least 15 feet from any property line where the property is used for residential purposes.
  • Health Department and state Agriculture and Markets requirements are met, including proper removal of litter and carcasses.

The law will reduce the need for for people wanting to keep fowl in residential districts, as long as they comply with the rules.

“I would not want the law to become too complicated for someone who wants to have a few chickens,” said board member Larry Jones.

While Town Attorney Patrick Snyder said there is no legal requirement that the law make clear that existing uses that do not comply with the new rules can continue after the new law is enacted, Williams asked that this be specifically stated to avoid any confusion.