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Somers Man Seeks Zoning Permit for Chickens

SOMERS, N.Y. – Richard Klein of Tomahawk Street in Somers has 11 hens and one rooster and is asking the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a special permit so he can keep the entire flock.

Klein’s attorney, Robert Gaudioso, said at the Tuesday night meeting that the town code specifies that six chickens are permitted.

"Anything in excess of six, or a mature rooster, requires a special permit," he said. "We are not seeking a variance. We’d like to have a special permit.”

Klein said his family and friends eat the hens' eggs. Board Chair Clifford Wohlberg asked about the purpose of the rooster.

Klein said he wants a rooster to protect his flock of hens. “If a hawk flies over, the rooster will shoo the hens into their cage.”

Gaudioso added, “It’s also a more natural existence for the hens. It helps with the hierarchy. You have happier hens laying more eggs.”

At least one of Klein’s neighbors said they object to the presence of the rooster, saying it makes irritating noises.

However, Klein said his dogs bark much louder than a rooster crowing, which only crows in the early morning or when approached. Klein added that he had two roosters originally but has gotten rid of one.

“There is significantly less noise now that the roosters are not in competition with each other,” he said.

“The code calls for ‘adequate safeguards to protect against disturbance,’ ” Gaudioso said. “Just hearing something does not make it a disturbance. This isn't music or traffic or a generator. Somers has an agrarian history,” he added.

Gaudioso said the Klein property is more than 4½ acres, heavily wooded and well-screened. “All setbacks have been met. There’s a coop and an internal exercise yard for the chickens and an external exercise yard. It’s situated as far away from the neighbors as possible. Also, we have letters of support from neighbors in close proximity.”

“It would be a hardship for us to get rid of six chickens,” Klein said. “They’re very friendly and entertaining and they all have names.”

Discussion of the application for a special use permit will continue at the next zoning board meeting set for July 17. Meanwhile, the zoning board has arranged for a site visit to the Klein residence.

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