Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Backers Intensify Push for Chickens

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Backers Intensify Push for Chickens

Article excerpt

WAYNE -- The North Jersey Locavores, a group that advocates using food harvested and raised nearby, has been ramping up its support of measures that would ease restrictions on keeping chickens in residential areas.

On March 31, just days before the Wayne Township Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on a zoning ordinance that would allow more households to raise chickens, the locavores' group will be hosting a discussion on it at the township library featuring Matt Soldano, a poultry farmer from Mahwah.

Erica Evans, a township resident who is the founder and president of the regional locavores' group, said scheduling of the Farmers Talk Series so close to the council meeting, though coincidental, is beneficial for her cause.

"I try to focus the talks on the farmer's journey," Evans said, though she added that she expected Soldano would also discuss the benefits of fresh eggs.

Wayne currently allows a homeowner with at least 2 acres of land to own up to 25 hens. If approved, the new ordinance would allow homeowners with at least 10,000 square feet of land -- about 0.23 acre -- but less than 2 acres to own up to 4 hens. Roosters would still be banned.

"I understand that it is 2 acres, but most people in Wayne own less than two acres of land," Evans said. "I think you can raise chickens on less, and it's just a really good way to get people back in touch with where your food comes from."

Evans has been trying to gain support through the local-food- buffs' network she's built over the last six months. Last week, she circulated emails urging residents to speak in favor of the ordinance. Several people, including Evans, petitioned the council on Wednesday night ahead of its vote to adopt the measure.

The discussion of their cause became sidetracked, however, when members of the Township Council and the mayor shifted the discussion away from the pros and cons of keeping household chickens to Victor Alfieri, who first proposed the idea to Mayor Christopher Vergano. …

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