No more raising chickens in Fitchburg

Hen_chickenBy Christopher Howe

Fitchburg City Council has ruled against the chicken ordinance petition, and therefore the city will not allow residents to raise any number of chickens on less than five acres of property. This decision may be bothersome to citizens who favor food which comes from their own backyard.

“There is no place for chickens to be cared for in such a tightly congested city,” says Fitchburg Board of Health Director Stephen Curry, mentioning how much of the city consists of closely-spaced apartments and single households. This restriction against livestock such as chickens within the congested Fitchburg area may raise alertness for those in favor of a more agricultural lifestyle outside of supermarkets.

When in season, farms that provide market stands give local town people an alternative from the regular supermarket products. Local farmer Stephen Violette says, “With freshly picked produce and raised animals there is no question that you are getting the best of the best with no added preservatives or anything artificial … It should be your own right whether you choose to have chickens on your own property or not.” He raises the question of whether raising livestock, regardless of owned property, should be considered a civil right for those that want it.

Councilors who voted against the proposed ordinance cited concerns of noise, odor, pests and questions of what would happen to unwanted chickens. Curry also states that “Fitchburg has for a long time practiced this five acre or more law and will continue as for now.” Although Fitchburg may be opposed to allowing city residents to raise chickens on their own property, many surrounding towns including Leominster, Lancaster and Westminster along with several other towns have divided views from Fitchburg’s and have passed the petition which allows their residents to raise as many as six chickens or less with under five acres of land.

Though eight Fitchburg city councilors voted against giving city residents with under five acres of land the permission to raise six chickens or less on their own land, three other members of the Fitchburg city council thought differently, and voted in favor of the petition to allow it. Ward 4 city councilor Delorez Thibault-Munoz of Fitchburg claims to be a great supporter of natural eating, saying “Fresh food is becoming more important for people now … access to food is limited and one does not get the homegrown taste of some foods and vegetables from the store as if they had grown them themselves.”

Alongside Thibault is Ward 5 councilor Nicholas Carbone who voted for the Chicken Ordinance petition to pass. “I believe that if people want to eat fresh food they should be allowed to and that includes chicken eggs as well,” the Ward 5 councilor remarked. Carbone also states, “Sometimes people wish to harvest their own food and have a self-providing feeling and when the petition was denied it moved us a little further away from the natural agriculture lifestyle some of us wish to live.”