With residents now able to raise chickens in New London, the Planning and Zoning Commission opted Monday to not take a position on whether residents may also slaughter the birds.
The commission voted 6-1 to eliminate an amendment to zoning regulations that would have declared the slaughtering of hens “expressly prohibited” in the city. The regulations on the keeping of animals were amended in August to allow residents to keep up to six hens.
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The decision followed discussion on whether such a prohibition could be enforced and whether it would put up a barrier to disposing of a chicken upon its death. Vice Chairman Barry Levine said the issue came up when the commission first discussed allowing hens and he understood the consensus was to remain silent on the issue.
“I don’t see the purpose of creating regulations you can’t enforce,” he said.
Chairman Mark Christiansen agreed, comparing the issue to the disposal of goldfish after their death.
“If the chicken dies, what do you want us to do with it?” he asked.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Michelle Johnson said the amendment would address concerns over animal cruelty. However, she said the New London Police Department or New London Animal Control would be better able to handle any “egregious” issues with the slaughter of chickens.
“They have a little more teeth in enforcement than I do, because once it’s dead it’s something I can’t enforce,” she said.
Wayne Vendetto, the sole opponent of the decision, said he was concerned what the implications would be if the regulations do not prohibit the slaughter of hens. He said that if the practice is allowed, it raises questions of where on a property it can take place.
“I have an issue with my neighbor being able to decapitate a chicken in front of my kids,” he said.
The zoning regulations on keeping animals formerly referred only to “customary household pets” and included a prohibition on commercial breeding or boarding of animals within city limits. The August changes allow hens to be kept in residential or general commercial districts as long as their principal use is single family residential.
The regulations also set rules on fencing and coop dimensions and locations, with the only other amendment passed on Monday increasing the setback for a coop from at least 10 feet from a property line to at least 20 feet. Hens must also be kept in such a way that the odor or noise will not disturb neighbors, city and state health codes are met, and provisions are made for droppings. Roosters and capons are not allowed, and hens may not be kept inside residential dwellings.
The only reference to slaughter in the new regulations is the stipulation that the keeping of hens must be non-commercial, with a prohibition on the sale of eggs or meat from slaughtered chickens.