PORTLAND — The City Council is expected to decide next week whether residents will be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards.
A public hearing will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18, and the council could follow the hearing with a vote. If approved, residents would be allowed to keep up to six domesticated chickens as pets and egg producers.
Roosters would not be allowed.
Residents like Elaine McGillicuddy are excited about the prospect. McGillicuddy said she heard about the proposal and immediately began educating herself about chickens and sending e-mails to friends encouraging them to support the urban chicken movement.
“People are passionate about this,” McGillicuddy said, because chickens can create community by generating neighborhood talk about the fowl and also through sharing of eggs with neighbors.
McGillicuddy, who describes herself as environmentally conscious, said she and her husband have done a lot at their Avalon Road home to become more sustainable, including using rain collectors and planting fruit trees. Having fresh eggs would not only allow more self-sustainability, she said, but would be a good learning experience for her 5-year-old godchild.
“It’s good for her to know where food comes from,” McGillicuddy said. And the chicken manure, she said, can be used for composting.
A Great Diamond Island teenager first wrote to City Councilor Kevin Donoghue a year ago to ask if the city could allow chickens as pets. Last month, the city’s Public Safety Committee voted 2-1 to recommend to the City Council that residents be allowed to keep the domesticated fowl. Donoghue and Councilor Dory Waxman were in favor, while Councilor Dan Skolnik was opposed.
The proposed ordinance would allow up to six chickens per residential property, regardless of the number of dwellings. Residents hoping to keep chickens would also have to get an annual permit from the city clerk’s office. The annual fee for the permit would be $12 per chicken.
Chicken owners would have to provide proper chicken pens and hen houses, in backyards only unless the property is a corner lot or has no backyard. In those cases, sideyards could be used.
Chicken pens must provide sun and shade, and keep rodents, dogs, cats and predators out with adequate fencing and with a cover of wire, aviary netting or a solid roof. So-called “chicken wire” would not be allowed. Hen houses would have to be 25 feet from homes or other structures on neighboring lots.
Odors and sounds must not disturb neighbors and manure must be stored in a 20-gallon covered container between removals.
People found in violation of the rules will have their hen houses inspected by the city’s animal control officer and charged $75 for the inspection, and subject to $100 civil fines.
The animal control officer would also have the right to remove chickens that are not cared for properly.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 in City Hall Council Chambers.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]

filed under: