Chickens may be coming home to roost

MOUNT DESERT — There could be a chicken in every lot – up to six chickens, in fact – in downtown Northeast Harbor and other village commercial zoning districts if a proposed amendment to the land use zoning ordinance (LUZO) is approved by voters at town meeting in May.

The ordinance defines the village commercial zones as “village areas, accessible to public sewer, deemed appropriate for commercial development.”

There are two village commercial zones in Northeast Harbor, including most of the downtown area, and one in Somesville.

Farm animals of all types are currently permitted in the town’s rural zones. The keeping of poultry and livestock for non-commercial purposes is permitted with planning board approval in all of the residential zones. The ordinance places no limit on the number of animals that may be kept.

But because of the greater population density in the village commercial zones, the proposed ordinance amendment includes a six-chicken limit.

Under the amendment, chickens could be kept “as pets and for personal use only,” and the owners could not sell eggs or “engage in chicken breeding or fertilizer production for commercial purposes.”

Roosters would not be allowed.

Chickens would have to be kept in an enclosure or fenced area, and at night, in a henhouse. Enclosures would have to be kept neat and clean “in a manner that will not disturb the use or enjoyment of neighboring lots due to noise, odor or other adverse impact.”

Property owners who keep chickens also would be required to “take necessary action to reduce the attraction of predators and rodents and the potential infestation of insects and parasites.”

If the chicken-keeping amendment passes, the birds would still be banned from the shoreland commercial, resource protection and stream protection zoning districts.

Allowing chickens in the village commercial zones is one of eight amendments to the LUZO that have been proposed by a citizens’ advisory group with the help of planning consultant Noel Musson. The planning board has voted to place the proposed amendments on the warrant for the May 5 town meeting. The board will hold a public hearing on the amendments on Wednesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.

Several of the LUZO amendments would loosen restrictions on what property owners may do with their land. One would allow more than one kitchen in a single-family home. Another would allow a second, separate dwelling unit on a lot. Minimum lot width requirements would be eliminated, and restrictions on the expansion of structures outside the shoreland zone would be relaxed.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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