Cape Elizabeth rooster flap may lead to regulation

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council referred a rooster problem to the ordinance committee Monday after hearing a resident’s complaints about his neighbor’s noisy bird.

The issue was brought to the council by Joe Gajda of 15 Farm Hill Road, who said his neighbor’s rooster has created a nuisance in their residential neighborhood.

“Your neighbor breathes and you hear it,” Gajda said of his neighborhood of small house lots. “Your neighbor’s rooster crows and you feel it in your spine. It’s horrible.”

Rooster owners Pat and Crystal Kennedy of 17 Farm Hill Road said the rooster is under control now, and they understand why neighbors were upset when they owned multiple roosters earlier this summer.

“Admittedly the roosters were loud,” Crystal Kennedy said. “They even woke us up.”

The Kennedys said they have gotten rid of most of their roosters and now only have one, named Elvis. They said they have clipped his wings, insulated his coop to contain the sound of his crow, and have ordered a quieting collar for Elvis to wear.

After the meeting, Crystal Kennedy explained the collar restricts how much air the rooster can draw, without hindering its breathing, thus reducing the sound and power of its crow.

At a Sept. 3 council workshop, Gajda and other neighbors said the rooster begins crowing before dawn and continues constantly throughout the day.

“There’s a stereotype of roosters that they only crow in the morning; that’s not true,” he said Monday.

This isn’t the first time the council has had to hear arguments about roosters. In 2011 rooster regulations were being drafted until the bird in question disappeared.

Councilor Caitlin Jordan wondered Monday if an ordinance could be created that wouldn’t ban roosters, but would require that owners keep them quiet.

Councilor Jamie Wagner agreed.

“I think that’s a good compromise,” Wagner said. “We should treat this as a noise issue, not an animal issue.”

After the meeting, Gajda said he disagreed with that strategy and that this has to be looked at as strictly an animal issue. He said it can’t be compared to a barking dog, because while dogs have other purposes, roosters do not.

“That’s an animal whose purpose is to make noise,” he said.

The Kennedy’s disagreed, saying Elvis is a “beloved pet.”

Councilors eventually voted 6-1, with Jordan opposed, to send the issue to the ordinance committee, which will look into banning roosters on small lots.

Following the decision, Pat Kennedy said he shouldn’t be penalized because he and his rooster live on a small lot. He said the ordinance would be financially discriminating because not everyone can afford to live on larger properties in Cape Elizabeth.

“Doing ultimatums and bans is anti-American,” Kennedy said. “It’s supposed to be a process with debate and compromise.”

He went on to say that he didn’t think council was being clear enough when discussing the noise problem.

“To me it’s not fair to say it’s excessive and not have a definition of what that means,” Kennedy said.

Gajda on the other hand said he was pleased by the council’s vote and is looking forward to an ordinance being created.

“I’m happy they’re going to move forward and do something,” Gajda said.

The Kennedys said they will need to move on if the fight intensifies.

“Hopefully we don’t have to get rid of our rooster,” Pat Kennedy said. “Hopefully we can come up with an acceptable compromise.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.