The request for a zoning variance by a Shelton property owner to raise chickens on less than the required 4.6-acre lot has been withdrawn.
The application was to be heard this week by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), but applicants Jose Mota and Grace Dias of 100 Walnut Ave. withdrew the request late last week.
The request for the variance was prompted by a neighbor’s complaint.
This month’s ZBA meeting scheduled for Tuesday was canceled anyway due to snow, but the issue came up at the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting on Wednesday night.
Subcommittee looking into issue
Richard Schultz, city planning and zoning administrator, informed P&Z members of the withdrawn ZBA application because a P&Z subcommittee that focuses on altering the zoning laws may recommend a change in the regulations on having poultry.
The Walnut Avenue property owners are “convinced” the P&Z subcommittee will suggest changing the regulation in a way that would make it legal for them to have chickens without a variance, according to Schultz.
He said the P&Z subcommittee will “re-examine” the rules on keeping fowl and try to find “an equitable way” to address the issue.
Any change in the zoning regulations has to be approved by the full P&Z, so Schultz suggested that all commission members give some thought to where they stand on the issue.
In the meantime, a cease-and-desist order against the property owners remains in effect although chickens still are on their property.
“They did get rid of the rooster,” said Schultz, noting roosters generally are the problem when it comes to noise.
A rooster is a male chicken, and roosters are known for their loud crowing at the break of dawn. “A rooster crows at 5 o’clock,” Schultz said.
Minimum size lot requirement
The current Shelton zoning regulations require at least 200,000 square feet of property — or 4.6 acres — for keeping poultry or livestock.
The Mota/Dias property at 100 Walnut Ave. is 2.1 acres in size. In their application, they were asking for permission to keep up to 20 chickens on their property.
At one time, people could have up to 20 chickens on any size lot in Shelton, but the regulations for keeping fowl were tightened about a decade ago.
The P&Z approves and amends the city’s zoning regulations, and acts on most applications having to do with the regulations.
The ZBA, a separate board, handles formal requests for variances to the zoning laws. A variance involves getting a waiver from a regulation.
Roosters vs. chickens
Schultz said allowing chickens on a lot of about 2 acres “sounds reasonable” to city zoning staff. He said staff is likely to recommend no roosters on such size lots, and still establishing a minimum size lot for having any chickens.
The current zoning regulations do not differentiate between male and female chickens.
Schultz said city staff does get phone inquiries from people asking about the legality of having chickens on their properties, as the popularity of people generating their own fresh eggs by having chickens has grown.
The Mota/Dias parcel is in a somewhat rural area that borders the Highland Golf Club, but also is not too far from Perry Hill School.
In addition to three properties on Walnut Avenue, their lot borders two properties on Perry Hill Road. The complaint about the chickens was made by a Perry Hill Road resident, according to zoning officials.