Vernon approves chicken ordinance

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  • Councilmember Dan Kadish reads from a prepared statement to oppose the $50 zoning permit fee included in the ordinance.

  • PHOTOS BY MARK LICHTENWALNER Highland Lakes resident Linda Osestad wears her chicken rain boots to speak her support of the chicken ordinance.

The chickens have come home, to Vernon, to roost.

In a 4-1 decision, the Vernon Township Council voted to approve the highly anticipated chicken ordinance.

Effective immediately, Vernon residents living in a single family residential use lot are permitted to own domesticated chickens, or ducks.

“I'm a chicken fan, and I would love to have my chickens, and my neighbors would love to have chickens,” said Highland lakes resident Linda Osestad.

The chicken ordinance is not intended to subvert or supersede the rules and regulations of any Homeowners Associations (HOA) or qualified private community. It is recommended to check with your HOA, or private community leaders to ensure you’re following all guidelines.

The chicken ordinance permits both chickens and ducks. The first reading of the ordinance on July 23 had allowed geese, as well. But, it was removed for the final reading and passage of the ordinance due to the aggressive nature of geese.

The domesticated chickens are restricted to hens only. No roosters are permitted.

Single family residential use lot of at least 100-by-200, but less than one acre may keep up to six birds.

Residential properties of one acre, but less than five acres, may keep up to 15 fowl.

Previously, only farm-assessed properties were allowed to keep fowl.

All fowl must be properly housed in a coop, or other structure properly designed for such use, and be separated from any structure utilized for dwelling purposes.

The general rule of thumb is that chickens need 2-3 square feet of space inside the coop, and 8-10 square feet in an outside chicken run.

Fowl will not be permitted to fly, or run around a property freely.

All coops and runs are restricted to the back yard of a property, and must adhere to the side and rear yard setback requirement of 10 feet.

A zoning permit from the township’s Zoning Officer must also be obtained for all coops and runs. The cost of this zoning permit is $50.

Any coops and runs 200 square feet and larger, will also require a permit from the health and building departments to satisfy the Township code, and other state statutes.

All other laws concerning the waste management and feed for foul can be found on the township's website.

The requirement of a permit, and the accompanying fee of $50, was the cause of the one down vote, coming from Councilman Dan Kadish.

“The need for a permit is too much bureaucracy,” Kadish decreed. Kadish argued that a coop and run should be viewed as no different than a dog-house, or rabbit hutch, which do not require a permit.

“Zoning (permit) is a one-time fee, and establishes where the structure is on the property,” Council President Jean Murphy said.

Kadish, despite being instrumental in the creation and drafting of the chicken ordinance, still cast a down vote due to the permit restrictions.

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