Ed and Jackie Snyder are crying fowl.
The couple has had chickens at their Vienna Road home in Arcadia for 17 years, but complaints by neighbors may force them to get rid of their feathered friends. The Snyders pleaded their case before the Town Board at its meeting May 14, requesting an explanation of the notice of violation they received from Code Enforcement Officer Chuck Verkey. According to the letter they received, the Snyders are in violation of town zoning ordinance, section 2.34 by possessing four hens and one rooster at their home, which is zoned residential. The violation states they are raising the chickens for financial gain like a farm misusing the property as it is zoned.
The Snyders dispute the allegation. The chickens on the property are pets, each having a name, and are kept for their eggs, much like the garden they maintain for the vegetables they grow. The couple argued that if keeping chickens to collect their eggs is considered a gain, then the extensive garden they maintain and the apple trees on the property that provide plenty of fruit must also be gains. To follow the line of logic would lead to code violations all across town for anyone growing a garden in their backyard, they maintain.
“Our small, little .92 (acre) is nothing more than a gain producer based on the way this violation is being interpreted,” Ed Snyder said.
“There’s no difference between ingesting a tomato or an egg,” Jackie Snyder added.
The violation is a result of complaints from neighbors regarding the chickens and an alleged rat infestation due to the chicken feed. Town Attorney Dave Saracino said the town also received information that the Snyders were raising the chickens for meat. Saracino said based on that information the town had to cite the Snyders for misuse of property. He called the comparison between raising chickens and growing a garden “absurd.”
“We’re not saying they have a farm,” Saracino said. “You can’t raise poultry on an R1 property. They’re not just getting eggs, they’re raising poultry for consumption and that’s farming.”
Saracino told the Snyders they would have to plead their case before the zoning board to get a variance, and if needed, can appeal the matter in court. But the Snyders want to see a specific ordinance that says they can’t have chickens. Cities, including Rochester, Syracuse and Canandaigua, have laws allowing chickens in residential areas, Ed Snyder said. Saracino said the codes are specific about what is allowed and all else is prohibited.
Supervisor Dick Colacino said the town is working on updating their codes, which would include a new ordinance that would allow chickens — an update that has been ongoing for the past two years. In the meantime, however, the Snyder’s chickens would have to go.
Page 2 of 2 - But the Snyders intend to fight the violation, noting that the letter they received was not officially signed. They requested a new letter with Verkey’s signature, which would grant them another 30 days to vacate the chickens from the property. But despite the violation, the Snyders have no plans to get rid of the chickens.
“The chickens are not leaving our property,” Jackie Snyder told board members before they left the meeting.