By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — A proposed bylaw that would allow all homeowners to keep up to six hens in their yards gained an influential endorsement last night.
The Planning Board voted 5-1 to recommend favorable action on the bylaw at the May 21 annual Town Meeting.
The board will seek some modifications in the language of the measure, which is being advocated by four Salem Streets residents, Hope and Thomas Ralph and Hillary and Christopher Stasinos.
The bylaw includes a provision that chicken coops be at least 40 feet from any neighbor’s property — unless the neighbor grants a waiver.
Planning Board member Richard Rowen objected to that exception, noting that a subsequent neighbor might demand that the waiver be rescinded.
He also said the requirement that chickens be confined to their coops from sunset to sunrise would be unenforceable. Most of his colleagues agreed.
Planning Board Chairman John Simons said his “libertarian side kicks in” as he contemplates the pros and cons of the chicken bylaw.
Simons, Rowen Lora McSherry, David Kellogg and Michael Colantoni voted to recommend favorable action on Article 28, which comprises the chicken bylaw.
Lynne Rudnicki, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said the bylaw should have stronger setback requirements.
At present, North Andover residents are not allowed to keep chickens on their property unless they own at least three acres.