BARNEGAT – Everyone has heard the neighbor’s dog barking, or seen a local outside cat roaming the neighborhood, but how many can say they’ve been woken up by their neighbor’s rooster?
At a recent Township Committee meeting, a pair of residents requested that the governing body consider changing the township’s rules concerning housing chickens and roosters on your property.
No, they don’t want to ban chickens and roosters. Quite the opposite: they want to change the zoning regulation to allow for chickens on their property, no matter its size.
In the Barnegat Township Code Book, under current zoning regulations, residential zones (R-20) that are smaller than one acre are not permitted to house chickens and other farm animals.
The raising and keeping of certain farm animals on your property in Barnegat falls under “conditional uses,” which are permitted “subject to the issuance of a conditional use permit.”
According to the ordinance: “Raising and keeping of a farm animal for domestic use on a lot having no less than one (1) acre. Additional farm animals shall not exceed one (1) per every one (1) additional acre. There shall be no storage of manure within one hundred (100) feet of any adjoining property line.”
Two Mast Drive residents, from the Settlers Landing section of Barnegat Township, brought their grievances with the current zoning regulations to the attention of the governing body.
“We haven’t received summons or citations about it but officers periodically visit my house…we’d like to get the ordinance revised,” said one resident.
The regulation states that one must have property that meets or exceeds one acre in order to maintain chickens and/or other livestock on the property, which these residents do not have and stated they cannot get within the township.
Claiming they pose no issues or risks to their neighbors or the township, and take proper care of their chickens, these residents want the ordinance to make an allowance for smaller parcels of land.
“Lanoka Harbor, Lacey, Waretown all allow under an acre to have chickens…Barnegat does not,” they added.
“As a rule of thumb, the minimum amount of space you should provide each chicken is 10 square feet,” according to MyPetChicken.com. This equals 100 sq. ft.; but obviously, the more room, the better. In an acre, there is approximately 43,560 sq. ft.
However, it is not only the spatial issues that are nagging at these residents. Another aspect of their argument is something a little more bothersome: the roosters.
“The ordinance needs to include roosters,” they added.
The roosters are the ones that will “cockadoodledoo” as the sun rises, potentially waking neighbors within earshot. On the other hand, however, the roosters play an important role in protecting the flock of hens.
Hobby Farms states: “Roosters are the guardians of the flock. They are constantly on the alert for predators from the sky and the ground. If they see something that worries them, they sound the alarm, and the hens run for cover. If the predator gets close, the rooster won’t back down and will fight to the death to protect his hens. If you have chicks in the flock, the rooster will work twice as hard to make sure all his charges are safe.”
The crowing not only protects the chickens, but also alerts to danger.
However, it is evident that a crowing rooster could become a nuisance to neighbors. A point to which these Mast Drive residents countered: “Dogs bark all day, children cry all day…why is it an issue for a rooster to crow?”
While no action was taken to amend the ordinance following the request, Mayor Alfonso Cirulli admitted that he has no problem allowing for more chickens in town.
As this was the first the governing body has heard of the issue, Cirulli said “We’ll continue to discuss it.”