The Planning Board has reviewed the final changes to a revised Livestock Ordinance and will vote on it at its first meeting in March.
The board discussed the updated ordinance with Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey and Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop at its Jan. 15 meeting.
“There are some things that needed to be tweaked,” Mackey told the board. “But it’s workable, and we’ll make good use of it.”
Notable in the new version is the revised Nuisance Ordinance, which has been made more enforceable, Mackey said. In earlier meetings he and Bishop had said it wasn’t always easy to enforce the regulations.
“We are going to run it by legal counsel and make sure we’re able to enforce it,” Mackey said.
The revision of the ordinance started when community members complained to him and Bishop about crowing roosters, “and there was nothing we could do.”
The new ordinance tweaked the definition of livestock and gives a better definition of “fowl,” Mackey said.
Mackey reiterated that he would like the attorney to look closely at the definition of nuisance, “and make sure it’s enforceable.”
Mackey added, “This is part of the zoning ordinance. It ultimately falls back on the Building Inspector. If something needs to be prosecuted, it will go through my office.”
Chairman David Granese liked several aspects of the revision, including the process by which offenders are dealt with. “The first contact with Animal Control is an outreach visit,” he said. “When they spell it out the first time, it should be easier.”
The ordinance specifies first, a visit by Bishop to point out the offenses; second, a follow-up with a letter specifying a deadline to comply; a third visit; and if they have not complied, formal enforcement action.
Granese asked about the penalty, and Mackey said it was “Up to $275, like any other zoning violation.”
Granese pressed for a standardized fee schedule. “It should be fair across the board so they’ll know what to expect,” he said.
Mackey responded that if it gets as far as the courts, the town asks for $275 plus reimbursement of its attorney fees.
Bishop said a “graduated system” works better for her department.
Member Darrell Park had a handful of concerns about the revised ordinance. “If you have chickens and ducks and you have 20 acres, there’s no need to have them enclosed in the daytime,” he pointed out.
Member Randy Chase said, “That one will regulate itself.”
Park was also concerned about section 165:4, where wire mesh or poly mesh roofs were required for fowl enclosures. “If you don’t have a requirement for a fowl pen, how can you have one for its roof?” Park asked.
“My concern,” he said, “is always the unintended consequences.”