BOONSBORO—The Boonsboro town council’s idea to let people raise chickens on their properties was met with opposition Monday night by a group of town residents who said it would result in filthy, stinking conditions.
Some of the people speaking in opposition during a public hearing on the proposal at the Eugene C. Smith Community Center said people should move out of town if they want to raise chickens.
One person who supports the proposal said the strong opposition from the group amounted to a “vicious beating” for the idea.
The measure would amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow up to three hens per lot to be kept in the town’s residential, suburban residential and rural residential districts, Town Planner Megan Clark has said.
No roosters would be allowed, and the hens would have to be kept within an enclosure at least 20 feet from property lines, Clark said. Those keeping hens would have to register with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, she said.
Virginia Morgan voiced frustration about the proposed law, especially since the town has restrictions about dogs in park areas.
Since chicken feed is expensive, Morgan expressed concerns about people being tempted to give chickens table scraps. The table scraps would lay around, Morgan said.
“Then we’re going to have rats,” said Morgan, who has lived in town for 81 years.
Deena Long, who lives on Monument Drive, told council members she was “extremely opposed” to letting town residents have chickens and feared the town would become a “zoo” if the proposed law is passed.
“You might as well put up the circus tent now,” Long said.
One resident who lives on North Main Street said her neighbor already has chickens.
David Long, who lives on North Main Street, said he had chickens. His son, David Gray Jr., said after the meeting that he did not see anything in town laws prohibiting chickens.
Gray’s father said their chickens are 20 weeks old and are just starting to lay eggs.
Susan Reynolds, another supporter of the proposed chicken ordinance, said after the meeting that there have always been tensions in town between natives and newcomers.
“The town is growing and things are going to change,” David Gray Jr. said outside the meeting.
Council members are expected to vote on the proposed law Sept. 6. After Monday night’s hearing, residents will have 10 days to submit written comments on the proposal, town officials said.
Comments can be submitted through the town’s website or by mailing them to Town Planner Megan Clark at 21 N. Main St., Boonsboro, MD 21713.