Chicken too little? (UPDATE: Meeting canceled due to snow)

UPDATE: Tuesday night's ZBA meeting has been canceled due to the inclement weather, according to the city website (

A Walnut Avenue property owner is asking for a zoning variance to keep chickens on a property smaller in size than the required 4.6-acre lot.

The request for the variance was prompted by a neighbor’s complaint.

The application by Jose Mota and Grace Dias of 100 Walnut Ave. in Shelton will be heard by the city Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Dec. 17.

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. Now at least 200,000 square feet of property — or 4.6 acres — is needed for keeping poultry or livestock.

The applicants want permission to keep 20 chickens on their 2.1-acre property, which is in a Residential-1 zone (consisting of lots of 0.9-acre or larger).

Property borders golf course, other lots

The 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, the applicants’ 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.

The applicants purchased a larger property on Walnut Avenue and subdivided it into three lots, with the lot where they built their house being 2.1 acres in size, according to zoning officials.

Officials said the applicants previously lived elsewhere in Shelton, where they were able to keep chickens.

P&Z discussion on issue

The issue was briefly discussed at a recent Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting. 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.

At the recent meeting, some P&Z members expressed support for revisiting the city’s current restrictions on keeping fowl on residential property.

At least one member said the regulations should be loosened as long as roosters aren’t waking people up by crowing in the morning and there aren’t odor problems.

However, the member said a resident with chickens shouldn’t be allowed to sell eggs in a residential zone. That would involve operating a business where it is forbidden.

Another P&Z member said it’s important to make sure the homeowner requesting the ZBA variance for the chickens isn’t keeping other regulated animals on the property.

Staff could support change in regs

Richard Schultz, city planning and zoning administrator, said staff likely would recommend loosening the regulations on raising poultry but suggest there be no roosters on smaller lots.

A rooster is a male chicken, and roosters are known for their loud crowing at the break of dawn. The current zoning regulations do not differentiate between male and female chickens.

In recent years, the idea of having backyard chickens has grown in popularity, partly because of the local-food movement.