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New chicken rules being eyed for town of Canton

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CANTON - The town Planning Board has hatched up new regulations that, if approved, would allow people to raise chickens in the town’s residential zones regardless of their property size.

The new proposal replaces a proposed zoning law that was rejected by the town council in May after opponents plucked it apart for various reasons.

Many residents objected to the original proposal because it required residential property owners to have a minimum of 3 acres in order to raise chicken on their property. In its review, the St. Lawrence County Planning Board also recommended against setting a minimum lot size.

“We dropped the acreage entirely,” said Planning Board Chair Michael K. Morgan. “That was the biggest obstacle we were facing with everyone.”

The 3-acre minimum was eliminated because it would rule out many residents from raising chickens, he said.

Mr. Morgan said the planning board has reached a consensus about what should be included in the new proposal. Those recommendations are expected to be reviewed at the town board’s Oct. 7 meeting. That session will start at 5 p.m. in the Rensselaer Falls Village Office, Main Street.

Those include limiting residential property owners to a maximum of six chickens and not allowing roosters. The original law did not set a limit on the number of birds, but it also prohibited roosters.

The planning board also wants to require chicken growers to have an enclosed coop with a fenced-in chicken run that’s a minimum of 10-feet by 10 feet in size.

“That’s mostly to prevent wandering in neighbors’ yards and protect the chickens from prey,” Mr. Morgan said.

Those who want chickens would be required to submit a site plan for review. Neighbors would be notified, but not required to give their approval, under the prosed regulations.

The town’s residential zones include sections of county routes 27 and 32, Hale Road, Judson Street Road, Miner Street Road, Woodmere Drive, and Route 310. Residents in the town’s rural zones are already allowed to raise chickens without restrictions.

The village allows property owners to raise chickens in residential zones if their neighbors don’t object.

Mr. Morgan said he is working on a rough draft of the planning board proposal. If the town council wishes, it would then direct Town Attorney Charles B. Nash to write the proposed law. A public hearing would be scheduled to allow input from residents.

Earlier this year, two residents of Woodmere Drive objected to altering the zoning code in residential areas. They also criticized town officials for not always enforcing the zoning laws that are already on the books.

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