NORTH ANDOVER — The chickens won by a landslide last night.
After several minutes of spirited debate and attempts to amend the measure, Town Meeting voted 239-33 in favor of a bylaw that allows residents to keep as many as six hens in their backyards. Previously, only those with 3 or more acres could raise chickens.
The voters also supported a plan to borrow $4,049,027 to pay for energy-saving projects at schools and other town-owned buildings; approved borrowing $3,895,500 to pay for a new gymnasium at Kittredge School, demolishing the old police station at Osgood and Main streets and building a central office for the schools and designing a new fire station at Prescott Street and Route 125; and passed an appropriation of not quite $82 million for schools and municipal services.
Town Meeting narrowly defeated Article 10, a citizen's petition that called for defining only humans as people. The lead sponsor, Fred Hufnagle, argued that this measure is needed to counteract a U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits corporations to spend large amounts of money on candidates that favor their interests.
Hillary Stasonis, of Salem Street, who led the effort to liberalize local chicken rules, said she and her husband, Christopher Stasonis, wanted to keep chickens on their property but found out they could not do so because their 1.56-acre property was not large enough under the old rules.
Six hens, she said, make less noise than a barking dog or a weed wacker.
Daniel Klisiewicz, of 60 Pleasant St., proposed an amendment that would allow residents of two-family houses to keep chickens. Article 28, the chicken bylaw, originally only applied to single-family homes.
Klisiewicz's amendment was eventually adopted. The voters rejected two other amendments. One, offered by Dr. Frank MacMillan Jr., would have referred the question to the selectmen. The other, proposed by David Boudreau, of 165 Greene St., would have required chickens be kept on lots of at least a half acre.