April 7, 2020

Chester Zoning Hearing on Changes to Poultry Regulations Set for Thursday

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission public hearing on a requested change to zoning regulations governing poultry will open Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the all-purpose room at Chester Elementary School. The hearing, originally set for Dec. 6, was rescheduled and moved from the commission’s usual meeting spot, Chester Meeting House, in anticipation of a large crowd.

John and Bonnie Bennet, of 23 Story Hill Road, have petitioned the commission to amend regulations governing poultry to prohibit the keeping on any property roosters and capons, particularly any “fowl which crows, calls, screeches, squaks, or makes similar other sounds, including but not limited to guinea fowl, peacocks or pea hens, geese, parrots, macaws or similar calling species.”

The language proposed by the Bennets would allow the keeping of hens and rabbits, but would also increase the minimum lot size requirement of the parcel for keeping of hens and rabbits from the current 10,000-square feet to a minimum lot size of 40,000-square feet. It would also increase the setback requirement for an enclosure keeping hens or rabbits from the current 50-feet to a minimim setback of 100-feet from “any dwelling in existence.”

Bennet, a lawyer with an office in Essex, has served as town attorney for Chester for several years and is a frequent moderator at town meetings. He does not serve as legal counsel for the planning and zoning commission. Bonnie Bennet is a former town judge of probate.

In the weeks since the public hearing on the proposed zoning amendments was rescheduled, Bennet has withdrawn one provision of the proposed amendment that referred to “noisy fowl and other animals,” including animals that howl or bark and could be considered a nuisance to residents in the immediate neighborhood.