By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission is set to release new livestock regulations for borough residents.
The commission is looking to change the regulations for backyard poultry from the current allowed 3 acres of the land to half an acre of land. The commission closed the hearing last month after opening it in September. Burgess Rocky Vitale previously said he asked for the commission to review revisions for keeping poultry after residents asked him to bring the idea forward.
“The following regulation will govern the keeping of backyard poultry and designed to prevent nuisances and prevent conditions that are unsanitary or unsafe,” Zoning Enforcement Officer Ed Carter said at the Jan. 19 commission meeting. “For the purposes of this regulation, backyard poultry is defined as chickens, hens, ducks, rabbits and/or quail.”
Naugatuck animal control officials state that it’s a zoning violation when it comes to backyard poultry, Carter said at the meeting.
“It would be no different than people that have too many dogs and they go in and they find that the dogs are malnourished and not being taken care of,” Carter said. “I think that’s the type of extent that animal control would have here as to how the chickens are being taken care of.”
Commission Vice Chair Eileen Bronko said it make more sense to just change the regulations to 1 or 1.5 acres.
“The thought was that well if it’s not working out, we’ll go back and change it. It’s really difficult to have a half acre and then say ok no, we’re going to go back up to an acre, two acres,” Bronko said. “Once we go down that low for acreage, I think it’s going to be a hard time to change it and go back up.”
Language addressing the slaughtering of chickens should be in the new regulations, Bronko said during the meeting. Zoning Commission members Neil Mascola and Attila Bordas agreed the new regulation should have it.
Carter said he didn’t recall any other town regulations that mentioned anything about slaughtering.
Town Planner Lori Rotella said the Land Use Department has never had anyone call to complain about slaughtering chickens.
Bronko said there was only about nine people from the public who attended public hearings on the backyard poultry and of that half of them were strongly opposed to having chickens and changing the regulations.
“Majorly changing a regulation based on nine people who commented, I think it’s probably not wise to do,” Bronko said
“If I had chickens and I knew I was breaking the zoning, I wouldn’t show up either and I think there’s a lot more than nine people in town with chickens,” Mascola said during the meeting. “I think this half acre thing is only going to make them less nonconforming.”
Rotella said there was a lady who came to a hearing to speak on behalf of many other people who didn’t come forward. People can be afraid to speak at hearings due to them believing that borough land use officials would come after them, she added.
“She was the one who showed up to do it. I think she was the one who was brave enough,” Rotella said during the meeting. “Not everybody likes to get up and speak. I think people are afraid to.”
“We were left with not a lot of public comment and you have to have public comment in order to change things otherwise we’re a board unto ourselves making decisions and that’s not good,” Bronko said.
Bordas said several towns around the borough have much more relaxed requirements and not many homes in the borough can hit the 3 acre mark.
“It is a more sustainable lifestyle to people living. It’s something that people prefer,” Bordas said. “We’re looking to attract more residents to Naugatuck and that’s where the half acre came from because that allows for a larger percentile of the population to have them.
The new regulations will also state that chickens won’t be allowed outside of their enclosures and after the slaughtering of chickens, the waste which includes feathers, organs and blood will be properly disposed of.
“I do think that our regulations need to be clear and concise so that when we’re reading them and ZEO (Zoning Enforcement Officer) has to read and enforce them, it’s because it’s clear,” Bronko said.
Bronko will be putting together the final draft of the regulations to bring before the commission for approval. The next meeting is on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.
Waterbury Zoning regulations state that city residents can have livestock on a minimum of 1 acre of land. Torrington Zoning regulations state that its residents can have livestock on a minimum of 3 acres.