EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 23, 2013

Selectmen support letting residents raise chickens

Town Meeting to make final decision

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Selectmen voted 4-1 last night to support a Town Meeting article that would allow more residents to keep chickens on their property.

Article 28, a citizen’s petition proposed by Hillary Stasonis, would allow a single-family residence to keep up to six hens. The current bylaw permits owners of three or more acres to keep only one chicken per acre.

The article also proposes letting residents who own three or more acres to have three chickens per acre, instead of just one. Those who raise chickens on their property would be required to house them in a coop with at least 4 square feet per hen.

Roosters would not be permitted.

Selectman Tracy Watson said she enthusiastically supports giving residents the right to keep chickens on their land.

“I’m going for it,” she said in calling for a favorable recommendation on the article. Chairman William Gordon and board members Rosemary Connelly Smedile and Richard Vaillancourt also voted in favor.

Selectman Donald Stewart cast the sole opposing vote. He said the board did not have enough information on what the impact will be of allowing more chickens in town.

The Planning Board has decided to make its recommendation on chickens at the annual Town Meeting May 21 at North Andover High School.

Last night, selectmen decided to hold off on making a recommendation on another citizen’s petition, Article 10, which supports amending the U.S. Constitution to state that only human beings are people. Fred Nothnagel, the sponsor of the article, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as people. This enables corporations to give large amounts of money to political candidates, he said.

“It seems pretty basic,” Vaillancourt said. “Only human beings are people.”

He said, however, that he does not have enough information about the article to vote on it. His colleagues agreed to postpone action.

Selectmen have already voted to support the proposed town budget of $84.3 million, which is listed under Article 14. Town Manager Andrew Maylor noted the Finance Committee voted last week to support all financially related articles, including the budget.

The board went along with Maylor’s suggestion that it hold off on Article 21, the Community Preservation Committee’s recommendations on how to spend the money the town has raised from the 3 percent surcharge on real estate tax bills.

The committee made its recommendations last Thursday night.