Bath council finds no foul in relaxed rules on urban chickens

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BATH — Backyard chicken coops could be a more common sight if the City Council gives final approval to an ordinance amendment allowing the possession of chickens in many areas of the city.

The council unanimously approved the amendment in a preliminary vote Wednesday night. Second and final passage is scheduled for next month’s meeting.

The city now allows keeping chickens only on properties smaller than two acres, with an approved site plan from the Planning Board. Applicants had to meet a set of standards, including keeping the fowl at least 100 feet from adjacent residences, according to an April 25 memo from Planning Director Andrew Deci to the council.

But the Planning Board on April 19 recommended changing that rule “after several years of workshops and discussions,” Deci said, “and at the urging of potential chicken owners within the dense portions of Bath.”

If the amendment is approved in June, chickens will be allowed to be kept on properties at least 6,000 square feet within the Residential 1, 2 and 3, and Commercial 2 zones. Planning Board approval would no longer be required; residents would instead need approval from the code enforcement officer and a $40 license, according to Deci.

Owners will be allowed no more than six hens, and no roosters; the chickens must be for personal use only; coops must be at least 15 feet from adjacent property lines, and only at the rear of homes, and noises and odors must not be detectable by neighbors.

Manure would have to be kept at least 100 feet from “a water body or water supply,” under to the new ordinance language.

Wednesday’s hearing on the matter drew no public comment.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.
  • Scott Harriman

    The city now allows keeping chickens only on properties smaller than two acres, with an approved site plan from the Planning Board.

    That doesn’t make much sense. Why place an upper limit on lot size rather than a lower limit?

    Wouldn’t a larger property be better able to mitigate any negative effects?