Loosen limits on chickens

They may ruffle some feathers, but Gloversville officials should consider changing how the city code treats chickens.

A Gloversville resident recently spoke to the Common Council about the code’s classification of chickens as farm animals. The code prohibits farm animals on properties smaller than five acres, which excludes most residential plots.

What that means is while chickens are not explicitly banned, for all intents and purposes, they are not allowed.

However, members of the council said they will look at and discuss the code before making a decision about allowing more city residents to have chickens.

The council members are right to review the code. While other concerns may be higher on the pecking order, it’s good for the council to occasionally study laws that haven’t gotten a look in some time.

State law says anyone buying baby chicks must buy them in batches of six or more at a time because the animals thrive in groups.

There are good reasons for the city to regulate where the animals can be allowed. An apartment is not a proper home for a group of chickens, and noise and odor concerns mean some yard space would be required to keep the neighbors happy.

While the sight of chickens strutting around the yard is associated with rural life, more and more cities and suburban municipalities are allowing residents to keep small broods of hens.

Residents of several Capital Region communities have been fighting their municipal governments to get permission for keeping hens in small numbers.

Roosters are not welcome in densely populated areas, where their ear-piercing crowing tends to upset neighbors.

We wouldn’t advocate the city loosen restrictions on roosters, but we think officials should reduce the amount of space needed for people to own hens for laying eggs. The city could have a rigorous permit system to ensure authorities know who has the animals.

Considering the city allows people to keep dogs – which can cause plenty of noise, mess and even dangerous situations – we think Gloversville can find a way to let more people keep chickens without making the city a foul place.