Fowl Play: Council Votes to Allow Residents to Keep Two

You’re not going to write another story about the chickens, are you?, a City Councillor asked a reporter at a recent meeting.

Well. Maybe one more story.

Monday night, District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero won his fight to allow Chelsea residents to keep two hens (but no roosters!) in their residence without having to go before the Board of Health.

Recupero introduced the order earlier this summer. Earlier this month, Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson tabled a motion to vote on the order, but Monday night, the motion was taken off the table and passed by a 6-3 vote.

The debate did have some moments of light drama, as several opponents noted that letting hens run willy-nilly over the congested urban landscape of Chelsea could increase the city’s rat problem. Meanwhile, Recupero countered with an impassioned plea for the rights of Chelsea residents to control their own food sources.

“Chelsea is an urban area, I don’t think it is proper to raise chickens or have the people next door to you raise chickens,” said District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop.

Bishop said allowing more chickens would only lead to negating the city’s rat baiting and control programs.

“That’s what draws them and causes more rats when they have access to eat the (chicken) feed,” said Bishop, adding that he saw no reason why the City couldn’t continue to allow chickens with approval by the Board of Health.

Recupero countered that the City allows pet rabbits without any oversight.

“You can have 150 rabbits, and rabbits bring in more rats than chickens, and the chickens don’t even make any noise,” he said. “Two hens are not hurting anyone. I’m not asking for 50 chickens.”

District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia spoke in support of Recupero’s request, noting that Somerville allows chickens, allowing opportunities for people who want to collect their own eggs free of antibiotics. While Garcia said she supported the order, she also noted that she wanted the Council to move on from spending an inordinate amount of time on chicken ordinances while there are more important issues facing the city.

Robinson, Bishop, and District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown voted against the two-hen request.

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