“All Animals Are Equal But Some Are More Equal Than Others”

 by:  Lawrence A. Calli

Owners of residential properties in New Jersey are no longer limiting themselves, in concept or use, to the idea that a person's home is a mere bastion of solitude and rest.  Rather, many homeowners are expanding their use of residential lots.  To be clear, we are not talking about simply adding a home office or  mother/daughter suite.  No, the newest trend appears to be raising livestock, and it’s not merely a trend in the southern and western counties of the State.  The trend towards municipal ordinances permitting livestock on residential properties has already spread to urban areas (including Jersey City), and is regularly considered by mayors and councils throughout the State. 

In a recent article, the Hopewell Valley News reported that the Hopewell Borough Council has been asked to consider an amendment to its land use ordinance that would allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards ("Hopewell: Backyard Chickens Are Council Topic").  The article notes that amendments in other parts of the State permit residents to keep as many as seven chickens within 25 feet of a neighbor’s property as long as the neighbor approves (larger flocks have to be kept 40 feet from the nearest neighbor).  

Hopewell Township recently adopted an ordinance that permits residents  to keep up to six chickens on their property.  The ordinance gained some notoriety because it limits rooster visits to only 10 days per year, and requires that the roosters be disease-free before visiting with the hens.  However, a spokesperson for Hopewell Township indicated that the amendment that Hopewell Borough adopts would not "in the slightest, possible way” mimic what occurred in Hopewell Township.  In fact, "a majority of communities forbid roosters because some find the crowing noise they make a nuisance, especially if it occurs in the early morning hours."

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