Batavia chicken coop permit slow

It’s been almost four months since Batavia decided to let residents raise chickens at home.

But even though dozens of people spoke in favor of the law during public meetings on the issue this spring, few have obtained permits to do so.

As of Sept. 1, the city’s building department had issued four licenses, and had one application pending, according to Rhonda Klecz, the code compliance officer. She said the department is receiving about two inquiries a month about chicken-keeping. And it had not received any complaints.

Residents sought permission to raise chickens in August 2010. Discussion of the matter was postponed until January. The city council approved the measure May 17.

The rules require people get a building permit before they start raising chickens. The chickens must stay in a coop or in an enclosed run. The buildings must be at least 30 feet away from any neighbor’s building, and at least 6 feet in from the lot line.

Proponents did not like the 30-foot requirement, feeling it would prevent many people with smaller lots from being able to raise chickens.

Jennifer Warta, one of the residents who requested the change, said timing may have been an issue.

“It got decided late this (chick-raising) season,” she said. In this climate, people buy chicks in early spring, she said, so that they are big enough by fall to survive cold weather. Warta didn’t apply for a permit this year, figuring that by the time she had plans approved and construction done, it would be well past the time to raise chicks.

The low number of permits doesn’t surprise Warta. “I don’t think we ever thought that many people would do it,” she said.

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