Ed Waters Jr.
(11/23) Three members of the Thurmont Planning Commission said Thursday night that complaints about chickens in the town is a code issue, not a zoning issue.
Chairman Randy Cubbedge and members Randy Waesche and Wayne Martin heard input from residents on the possibility of new ordinances to potentially limit the number of chickens a resident could have as well as other livestock controls.
Waesche said the town code already included the county's rules on livestock and there was no need to add another ordinance.
Mayor John Kinnaird, liaison to the commission from the mayor and town commissioners, said Thurmont is an agricultural community. The town currently allows livestock in all zoning designations, including residential.
There have been complaints, Kinnaird said, of noise from roosters and chickens getting into other residents' property and sanitation issues.
Four residents who have chickens and have received no complaints said poultry should be allowed, as long as the fowl are tended to responsibly.
Dan Kosek and Brian Speck raise chickens for the eggs for their families. The chickens are treated humanely, the yards are kept sanitary, and no birds go into neighboring yards, they said.
Sheri and Doris Kuhn consider their chickens pets and use the eggs only for their own consumption.
All four said children come to see the poultry and have a chance to learn where eggs come from, not just in a supermarket. They all said fresh eggs taste better than store-bought eggs.
Roosters are necessary, Speck said, to protect the flock from predators by sounding the alarm and to lead the chickens to where the best food is in the yard. Roosters are needed to create fertilized eggs, but none of the four residents raises chickens for commercial sale.
The four asked the planners not to penalize those who raise chickens responsibly because there may be others who do not care properly for the poultry or their neighborhood.
"We need to take the Health Department and Animal Control to task on this," Cubbedge said. "It is not a planning and zoning issue."
Kinnaird said he would take the information presented at the meeting to the town commissioners for further discussion.
Cubbedge said there will be no meeting of the planning commission in December because of the holiday season.
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