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Fair or Fowl: Should Clark Allow Chickens?

At Monday night's council meeting, members discussed whether or not to prohibit raising chickens and other livestock.

Clark chickens may have to fly the coop. At Monday's meeting, councilmembers discussed whether or not to prohibit chickens and other farm animals in the township.

Clark Health Officer Nancy Raymond said last year she was notified that a Clark resident and Schieferstein Farm were interested in getting chickens and felt that the town needed to put forth an ordinance regarding chickens.

Raymond also told council that there are currently two Clark residents who have six chickens each that she is aware of. Councilman Brian Toal chimed in and said that two years ago there were at least eight residents with chickens and a resident on Ivy Street who bred homing pigeons.

Raymond reached out to other towns in Union County and of the nine that responded, five had ordinances prohibiting chickens. Raymond said that Cranford allows chickens, but has fines in place to govern how they are managed. Raymond also said the most common restriction in towns that allowed chickens was that they did not allow roosters.

Councilman Pat O'Connor asked Raymond if she knew of any health concerns regarding raising chickens.

"No, as long as they're handled correctly and clean, and if they're going to slaughter them they don't do it at home," answered Raymond. "But if they don't keep the coop clean they can attract rats and other wildlife."

When asked her preference, Raymond said she would prefer that chickens were prohibited.

Councilman Richard Kazanowski asked Raymond if there was any health reason (besides wanting farm fresh produce) that would make someone want to raise chickens. Raymond said there was not.

The council also discussed whether there were ordinances regarding other farm animals. The consensus was that Township Attorney Joseph Triarsi would check current laws and zoning regulations and then draft an ordinance prohibiting chickens and other livestock. The council did not decide whether residents who currently have chickens would be exempt from the ordinance.

Would a chicken ban ruffle feathers? Take our poll, below.

Resident Doug Ritter spoke up during the public comments section of the meeting and said when he was growing up in Fanwood his brother built an incubator to hatch chicks.

"I don't think you should try to encourage or discourage a young child trying to educate themselves with an item like this," said Ritter. "I think it certainly should be limited, but perhaps allowing chickens for a certain period of time might be decent idea."

Heather Warszawa March 07, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Chickens eat mosquitos and other bothersome bugs. They are not dirty and they are very smart!!! We are planning on getting a few in the spring . If they pass this ordinance I believe many people will consider it unfair and controlling. As a home owner in Clark it should be my right to own any animals I wish. I want the chickens so I can be sure my family is getting eggs I can trust from chickens that are well taken care of and happy. Also their droppings make great fertilizer for our garden. They are natural pest control for my plants. They are not bothersome and do not smell. I cannot understand how banning chickens in Clark would be to the greater good of anyone in the town. With the amout of taxes I pay in this town they should not have the right to control how I chose to feed my family. Did I mention they also naturally deter rodents which we seem to have a lot of in Clark! The people who make this decision should read up on chickens before they jump to a conclusion. Owning chickens would be nothing but beneficial to the people of Clark.
marietta March 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I agree with you completely. We should be allowed to raise any animal we want. Why did kazanowski ask raymond about the reasons people want to raise chickens. it is clear from the article that she does not want to have people raising chickens so why is he letting her speak for people who do have reasons for wanting to raise chickens.
Dexter Gelfand March 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM
My name is Dexter Gelfand, I lived most of my life in Clark, moved out to Davis, California in 2008. Here, and in most neighboring towns, it is fairly common for homeowners to have chickens. Many people enjoy having them as pets. I think it would certainly amount to excessive and unjustified government to prohibit raising chickens. There simply is no justification for that, only perhaps some ignorant person's misconceptions. Roosters, on the other hand, are commonly prohibited in residential areas, because they're loud. What is sensible is to enact requirements regulating the treatment of these chickens, including allowing them space to roam around in. As thousands of towns already have such regulations, there is no need to re-invent the wheel, just take a few hours (not a few weeks or a few months- a few hours) to research this. Here in Davis, UC Davis, a huge and prestigious university, originally agriculturally based, is located; you might consider contacting an expert at UC Davis for accurate information on this.
Jack Bee March 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Schieferstein Farm has been here it seems forever, second generation and most likely working on 3rd generation. This town seems to focus on beating up almost bullying existing busnesses, raise taxes and put more and more regulations in place. Has anyone thought about the guy might be trying to make a buck selling farm fresh eggs ? by the way if you dont like hearing a chicken cluck in the distance MOVE BACK TO NEW YORK or where ever you came from, as far as im concerned its part of a small town charm that seems to be erroding every day. IE, The meiles desaster ! Hey I know lets ban the train that comes through late night early morning that taps its horn way down in edison that you can hear in the distant, on a summer night like pettycoat junction. Go chickens GO !!!!!!!!!!!!
E Liz March 07, 2012 at 04:18 PM
As with any other property maintenance issue, or animal control issue - as long as code-wise and cruelty-wise there are no violations, I think chickens are a fine idea - especially if there is a farm in town?!? Why would they even ask - I would have assumed any farm would have chickens already. Hooray for fresh eggs. What a wholesome problem to have ... chickens in your town! I can't even believe this is a discussion.
John March 07, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Liz, I totally agree. While there may be no violations involved, this situation doesn't come without some responsibilities. People need to be considerate of their neighbors and how it will affect them. I come from a farming family, and there will be issues that need to addressed with the raising of chickens. There will be some noise, smell, and other issues that one may find visually unappealing. While I don't have a problem with a business such as Schieferstein Farms, that has considerable space, with owning/raising chickens, I do not find it a proper option in a residential neighborhood. We, as homeowners, have all been affected by the downturn in Real Estate values in recent years. Imagine what the value of your property now becomes if your next door neighbor has a chicken coop in their back yard. Most prospective homebuyers will find it to be a turnoff, I assure you. You have to look at the long range ramifications this could cause. And in response to previous writer who eluded to selling farm fresh eggs?.....That opens up a whole other can of worms! Health Code involvment, Business licensing, Liability insurance,.....These alone don't make it conducive for the "little guy" to sell a few dozen eggs to the general public. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the whole "chicken question" as a whole,.....I am however a realist! This is not a good idea!
Leenie2u March 07, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Bats and birds of flight eat mosquitoes, chickens eat what's on the ground. Chicken feed can and often does attract rodents. The ammonia smell from the causttic chicken excrement can be overwhelming. Concentrated chicken "poop" will burn out your grass and kill young plants and older plants , if used too freely. If a resident would like to keep chickens, it should be on a large piece of property far away from other residents. The lots in my neighborhood are 57' x 100' and much too close together to accommodate livestock. One of neighbor's tried that several years ago and we were battling rodents for at least a year after the chickens were gone. The mess still remains. Also, I would think this young mother would be concerned about the outbreak of bird flu a couple of years ago that caused worldwide panic and many deaths in China attributed to CHICKENS. I think it is best to leave chicken farming to the experts. I'm not opposed to chickens on the Shifferstein Farm, they have the room for them.
Barbara Emmanouilidis March 07, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I am a lifelong Clark resident. I see no good reason to bring another health hazard into our town. We already are battling an ongoing rat population. I can't even grow vegetables in my yard any longer do to the rats eating them. I see them run all around at night. Chickens would only attract more. It's bad enough some of my neighbors don't clean up after their dogs and have a front lawn covered with dog feces to the point the mail carrier doesn't want to deliver there, I can just imagine if a neighbor now had chickens. Are lots are 50 x 100 and much too close for chickens. The smell would be unbearable. I also would assume it would hurt my property value as I know if I were a home buyer I would NEVER buy a home next to or even on a street where someone is raising chickens. I could see it if the nearest grocery store was 25 miles away, but Shoprite or A & P isn't more than 10 min from anywhere in town. This is a ridiculous idea. I applaud Nancy Raymon, she's got enough problems to deal with the rat population, than to start dealing with chicken feces, noise and smell. What's wrong with people, this is a community not farmland.
Lou March 07, 2012 at 09:58 PM
You gotta be kidding me .. Guys (yes,, the politicians) please spend your TIME on cutting our property taxes NOT raising them!!!!
John Smythe March 07, 2012 at 10:37 PM
We should not be free to keep any animal we please.(lions, tigers, elephants) It was chickens that helped spread the pneumonic plague in th 18th century. Just be careful.
Gerard Ziobro Sr. March 08, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Sheffersteins is a long time family owned business, neighbor,farmer and Clark resident. It is a farm and should be able to raise chickens for the purpose of fresh eggs if they want to or any other property that is zoned for owning or raising animals. The farmers have a hard enough time these days. If a resident owns a chicken or 2 as long as it is kept clean and under the same rules as having other pets such as dogs, Cats, Rabbits etc. it shouldnt be a problem. Where did this discussion originate from anyway?
Gerard Ziobro Sr. March 08, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Clark used to have alot of farming and chicken coops on Madison Hill Road. I would love to see som e come back
Julia March 08, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I can't see why a home can't have a chicken or two. But there should be a limit and a violation if not properly maintained and the housing should be done correctly and humanely. We do have Falcon and Hawks, they will attack the chickens. (They get my birds in my back yard) =0( But I have no problem with chickens, they eat ticks! =0)
Henny Penny March 09, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I think anyone agreeing that chickens should be allowed has never lived next to them. I have lived in Clark since 1961 and approx 5 years ago our neighbors put up a chicken coup and put 10-12 chickens in it. The coup was surrounded by a cheap fence and brought racoons and hawks. The chickens frequently got out and roamed the neighborhood. People that came up the driveway to the house would comment "what is that stench". The neighbors never did a good job cleaning the pen and when it rained the poop would run into our yard. The reason being is that they placed the coup not even 5 ft away from our property line, close to our kitchen. This is beind their garage and our of their sight, but not ours. When sitting in the kitchen, with windows closed, you can hear them cackle 1/2 way across the house. We complained to the health department, but the chickens remain. They did put up a closed cage which is higher by two feet or more than the 8ft resin fence which they installed when we complained. They at one point had a rooster as well. Homeowners have smaller lots than years ago and currently there are no restrictions as to how close a coup can be put to a neighbors property line and how high it can go. No matter how much a coup is cleaned on a hot day you can smell them.
anonymous March 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I also live next door to a family that own chickens. There is no problem with them whatsoever. The chickens have never left the coop that they are contained in and the family regularly cleans the coop. We've been given fresh eggs on occasion from them, and they are delicious. I've never had a problem with the way our neighbors have kept their coop and their six chickens. They don't have a rooster, so there is no noise issue. And since they clean the coop regularly, there is no stench WHATSOEVER. There is no issue to complain about someone who abides by all town laws at all times, especially when we know they have been visited by the health officer multiple times. They have never had a problem with the town officials and I feel they should be able to keep their chickens ALWAYS.
anonymous March 10, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Nancy Raymond has been to our neighbor's home multiple times for ridiculous calls by other neighbors trying to start issues like this. Our neighbors (who have SIX chickens) keep them well maintained and smell free. We've NEVER had any issue concerning rats, hawks, or raccoons because of the chickens next door. Before you start worrying about your neighbor having chickens, taste their free eggs that they just offer you, because they're neighborly AND maintain their coop well that there is NO stench at all. There is no need to spend so much money every week on fresh eggs when you can properly maintain an animal that can produce their own.
anonymous March 10, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Why should the Clark government regulate a FOOD SOURCE when the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT says that it is completely allowed?! If chickens are raised on a piece of property that is abiding by the laws provided by the town, state, and country, why should they be prohibited??? This debate is null and void on the premise that chickens shouldn't be allowed on any piece of property in Clark, especially when Clark used to be such a prosperous farming town. The only reason why anyone would be raising chickens would be to not pay the heavy prices on other eggs at ShopRite or A&P. If any one goes fishing in Clark or any other surrounding town, should they be penalized for bringing home food to provide for their family?! Absolutely not! That would be ridiculous!! If anyone doesn't like the raising of chickens or any other farm fresh produce for their own consumption in their own town, they should just move out of Clark and to some city that is built on consumerism and not family values!!
Donough Ryan January 30, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Jack in most Parts of NY city You Can have Chickens Sounds like Clark Counsel are So out of Touch!
Donough Ryan January 30, 2013 at 09:52 PM
You need to Watch The Documentary "food inc" and you would not be leaving Chicken Farming to the Experts. That why Your town should have rules for Chickens just like they have rules for dogs.
Donough Ryan January 30, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Are you Sure it was not Humans that spread the pneumonic Plague.! You need to read more medical Journals and less blogs.
Donough Ryan January 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM
I grew up with Chickens in My Back Yard and agree that 10-12 is too much. 10-12 Cats would be too much and if not looked after would Stink also. That is why there should be rules. A ban is a "Cop-out".! And I guess the never gave you any Eggs.
Art August 11, 2013 at 03:08 PM
I moved in to Clark in 2013 and planning to raise chickens. So how did it end up? Is there any ordinance passed regarding this?
Julia January 25, 2014 at 08:42 AM
I have lived around chickens and have had chickens. My sister raises them in PA. I invite you to come visit. She keeps them extremely clean. You can't smell them. It's all in the way they are kept.
Julia January 25, 2014 at 08:44 AM
I also do cat rescue... I have no issues with that and am always complimented. My home is extremely clean. Even my vet compliments my home when he visits. I'm told he goes to a home with 1 cat and it can be bad. If you don't clean after your pets then you will have issues. It's all in the way you keep your home and your pets.

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