BATH

People living within city limits who might like to have a few laying hens on the property have been pretty much out of luck.

The prospects of owning chickens on lots of fewer than 2 acres, however, appear to be a bit brighter.

Tonight, the Planning Board will conduct a workshop concerning a chicken ordinance draft, and the issue could progress to a public hearing this spring.

As it stands, restrictions are much less restrictive for lots of 2 or more acres.

“The Planning Board has discussed amending those standards for some time,” said Andrew Deci, the city’s planning director. “I’m working on putting together a new list of regulations.”

While Bath is just beginning to scratch the surface, other cities already allow them on a limited basis, including Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth.

In Portland, residents are allowed to own up to six female chickens — but no roosters, which make more noise. That city requires coops be 100 feet from any residential property or street border.

For animals other than “typical household pets,” Bath currently requires:

— If the property on which the animals are to be kept is less than 2 acres, and/or the applicant cannot feasibly or would rather not meet setbacks, a permit for keeping animals may be authorized by the Planning Board if the following standards are met:

— All pens, stables, barns, or other shelters for animals are set back at least 100 feet from the nearest dwelling other than the applicant’s.

— All manure is stored in a covered structure and at least 100 feet from the nearest dwelling, other than the applicant’s, at least 100 feet from the nearest potable water supply, and at least 100 feet from the normal high watermark of any water body, or watercourse.

— All structures are set back the required number of feet.

— Manure-storage structures are constructed according to plans approved by the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

— All feed and grain are stored in rodent-proof containers.

— All paddocks, pastures, or other similar areas are adequately fenced to contain the animals.

“With less than two acres,” Deci said, “the standards are restrictive.”

Deci said the Planning Board might conduct a public hearing on chickens on plots of less than 2 acres as early as March or April.

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