GLENS FALLS — A pilot program allowing Glens Falls residents to keep chickens could soon take flight.
The city has scheduled a public hearing for July 24 at 7:15 p.m. in the Common Council chambers on a proposal to allow residents to keep up to four hens. Under the plan, up to 15 permits would be issued. People interested in owning chickens would have to pay a $25 application fee and watch an online video about raising them.
“We wanted to listen to the concerns that were brought to us and mitigate them as best as possible,” said Councilwoman Diana Palmer.
This proposal comes after about three months of discussion in which people spoke out passionately on both sides. Advocates say they would like to raise chickens to have fresh eggs. Detractors worried about odor from chicken excrement and the possibility that the fowl would attract other predators.
Palmer credited City Clerk Robert Curtis for work he did to research ordinances in other communities and draft language for the Glens Falls local law and the work of the Code Enforcement Department. Cornell Cooperative Extension also has assisted the city.
“They are willing to create a webinar that people will be required to watch and answer questions,” she said.
The chickens will not be allowed to run free. Chicken owners must have a chicken coop with a minimum of 3 square feet per bird that is built at least 30 inches above the surface of the ground. After applying for the permit, the city must inspect the homeowner’s property.
The coops must be cleaned regularly and treated with a disinfectant at least three times every year and once during the months of March, July and October.
The permits must be renewed annually and the $25 fee paid each year.
Chickens will be allowed only in zones that are single-family, low-density; and single-family, moderate-density. They will not be permitted in single-family, high-density; two-family residential; multifamily, residential; commercial, industrial or special districts, according to the draft law.
The coops and outdoor pens/runs must be set back 25 feet from any residence. People must not allow waste to accumulate or cause obnoxious odors or keep decaying animal or vegetable matter. If there are two or more violations, the permit holder will be allowed to fix the violations. If they are not corrected, the permit will be revoked.
The chickens also cannot be used for commercial purposes, and roosters are prohibited.
The pilot program would last until Dec. 31, 2019. After that time, the Common Council could discontinue it. All existing permit holds would be grandfathered, but if they stop raising the chickens, the permit expires.