Appellate Court Decision Cries “Fowl” on Man’s Quest to Keep Chickens in Residence

There have been a lot of bird-brained ideas raised in court over the years, but very rarely are actual birds involved. Not so in today’s case, which involves a man in Clinton County who sought a ruling that poultry husbandry was permitted in the residential zone area in which he lived. According to the Village Zoning Code, the petitioner’s residence was in an area zoned R1, meaning “one-and-two family dwellings” and “accessory uses,” such as garages, pools, and the “keeping of domesticated animals. Now for most people that means cats and dogs, but for this particular individual, chickens were the animal of choice. 

The case arose when the Village’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, Michael Tetreault, informed the petitioner that keeping chickens was an agricultural use and therefore ran afoul of the regulations for his residential neighborhood. Considering that ruling a rotten egg, the petitioner sought to have the Zoning Board, and later the Supreme Court, overturn the ruling. Ultimately both bodies declined to do so, finding poultry husbandry was included in the definition of “agriculture” and that the Officer’s ruling was reasonable.  The Appellate Court similarly dismissed, for the reasons discussed above, and so ended the petitioner’s quest.  An unusual case, to be sure…

The case was Meier v Village of Champlain Zoning Board of Appeals, 2015 WL 3767526 (NYAD 3 Dept. 2015)

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