Pecking Order Council Hatches Potential Plan for Allowing Chicken Keeping

The chickens haven’t come home to roost quite yet in Chelsea.

Before heading out on summer break, District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero requested that City Manager Thomas Ambrosino explore the possibility of residents being able to keep chickens at their homes without a permit.

In a letter the Council received from the City Manager at Monday night’s meeting, the answer was a qualified ‘maybe.’

“My review of the City Ordinances leads me to conclude that this is a matter that rests exclusively with the City Council,” Ambrosino stated. 

The current city ordinance pertaining to domestic farm animals, including chickens, prohibits any resident from “owning or harboring” a domestic farm animal without the permission of the Board of Health.

The City Council could eliminate the requirement for the Board of Health approval, if it so desires, through an ordinance change.

But, Ambrosino did caution the Council that before making an ordinance changes that would allow chickens to run free down Broadway, to review ordinances in other municipalities and inquire about their domestic chicken experiences.

“I am aware that, in some communities, allowing residents to raise chickens, particularly in dense neighborhoods, has generated complaints from abutters,” Ambrosino wrote. “And, in at least the neighboring municipality of Revere, a previous ordinance allowing chickens was rescinded, and now the ownership of chickens is expressly prohibited.”

Ambrosino also suggested that before any further chicken plans are hatched, that there should be some discussion with the Board of Health as to how many requests are made for the permission to raise chickens and how often such requests are denied.

“It may be that the current regulatory structure of requiring Board of Health permission is working just fine and is not in need of revision,” Ambrosino stated.

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