Board hatches special poultry permit plan

WESTFIELD – The Planning Board voted last night to grant a special permit to a City View Boulevard resident seeking to raise chickens in his backyard, just one meeting after denying the resident’s son-in-law, who lives around the corner, a similar permit.
Russell Duval of 325 City View Boulevard said that he plans to raise 6 chickens for eggs and that his property, over an acre, will accommodate a 24-square-foot coop set inside a fenced 60-square-foot run. The coop will  be 55 feet from his south property line; 91 feet from the north line and 55 feet from the west (rear) property line. Duval said he also owns a half-acre lot behind his property.
Board members questioned the unequal side yard setbacks. Duval said his rear yard is entirely fenced and that he maintains a gate to the rear lot in the middle of that fence. Duval said he also has a shed for storage of yard equipment and that the coop is located on the inside of that shed for additional screening.
One neighbor, whose property directly abuts Duval’s, spoke in support of petition. No residents spoke in opposition.
Bill Reed, a Montgomery Road farmer, speaking in support of Duval, said that at one time he has 1,200 chickens.
“A person should be able to have a few chickens, to raise vegetables,” Reed said. “I believe people should be able to provide food for their family without having to get a special permit.”
The board issued a unanimous vote, 6-0, in support of Duval’s petition.
The board also discussed the petition of Duval’s son-in-law, Daniel J. Whalley, whose petition was denied by a 4-1 vote at the April 16 Planning Board session. A special permit requires a super majority vote of the Planning Board, five (5) affirmative votes to gain approval. The 4-1 vote failed to gain that super majority.
A petitioner is not allowed to request a special permit for two years if the original petition is denied, unless there is a substantial change to the original proposal.
Whalley said last night that he has made changes to his original proposal by relocating his proposed chicken coop and requested a “straw” vote of the board members to determine if the changes are sufficient to be considered substantial.
Whalley will submit the amended petition to the Planning Board on the “substantial change” standard before it will conduct a new public hearing.
Residents raised a number of concerns at the April 16 meeting, including noise, location of the coop and the fact that it may attract predatory wildlife, such as foxes and coyotes, to the neighborhood.

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