Chicken ordinance pecks through mayor’s veto

By Coleen Burnett
Eatontown — When all was said and done — and there’s been a lot said and done on this issue over the last seventeen months — it was a victory for the chickens.
At their July 26 meeting, the Eatontown Borough Council retained the needed votes to override the mayor’s veto of the so-called “chicken ordinance.” The final vote was 4-2, the same tally as the last vote cast on June 28, when council voted to enact the ordinance in the first place.

In essence, Mayor Dennis Connelly was unable to get any members to change their vote and possibly get his veto to carry over.

Before the matter was finally settled, he made an impassioned plea in an attempt to get the governing body to see things his way. ”This is such a drastic change,” he said. “This affects every single family dwelling in town… when you go in your backyards that should be your sanctuary. Your neighbors shouldn’t invade that property {by their actions}.“We are being laughed at in social media and in the newspapers and on talk radio. It’s been all over the place. We’re a laughingstock over this. People say there are bigger issues {in town} and I agree. There are bigger issues.“Please tell me how this will not cause neighbor disputes. Please tell me how the majority of people in this town are welcome to this change. Tell me how this enhances our town. I really beg you not to put this into effect.”

But during the public comment portion of the meeting, Memorial middle-school student Katie Pharo got up in front of the microphone and thanked Council members Anthony Talerico, Virginia East, Patty May and Al Baginsky for voting in favor of the ordinance, which Talerico and East worked to draft.

She noted that she was a High Honor Roll student an athlete that played three different sports – while also taking care of several chickens.

“I have dedicated so much time and effort into raising them,” she told the council. “They are not a school project. They are a life-long passion.” Her remarks drew a round of applause.
After the meeting, Connelly told the Link he was not surprised by the outcome. “It was expected,” he remarked.

The ordinance contains a series of restrictions designed to ensure that only those who are very serious about raising chickens even attempt the project.

Some of those restrictions are that only single family residences will be allowed to keep the birds, and no roosters are allowed. There are limits on lot size.

There is a $25 permit fee, payable to the Zoning Board. All electrical hookups must be underground, to prevent extension cords from running to a coop via a hookup from the house. No chickens can be slaughtered on a homeowner’s property — they must be humanely removed.

Should a chicken owner sell his property, the subsequent homeowner cannot be grandfathered in. Should the new owner want chickens, the process must start completely over.