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New Hampshire

May 10, 2013

'The Palace,' a chicken coop, gets ZBA OK

SALEM — Brace yourself, “The Palace” is coming to Salem.

The town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously Tuesday to allow for the building’s construction on Shannon Road.

But don’t expect to see a glitzy, multi-level marble structure popping up any time soon, The Palace is a 6-by-12-foot chicken coop.

Yes, a chicken coop.

The zoning board often finds itself granting variances for homes and businesses around town. It’s just not often that the board is asked to give its blessing to a chicken coop.

“We don’t get a lot of issues involving animals,” town planning director Ross Moldoff said.

But communities throughout the region are seeing an increase in people raising chickens, according to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture. Every spring, area grain stores, such as Derry Feed and Supply, offer baby chicks for sale.

It’s happening across the state line as well, where residents of North Andover will consider a bylaw to allow chickens when they vote May 21 at their annual Town Meeting. And it’s not just small towns.

“Urban chickens are becoming more popular,” attorney Marie Sapienza said.

Sapienza represents Salem resident Debra Casement, who said she was delighted to receive approval to raise six laying hens on her 1.9-acre lot at 57 Shannon Road. She’s still deciding on the breed, but chose The Palace from chicken coop designs offered online.

“We’re very excited,” she said.

Casement needed the board’s permission because even though her property is in the town’s rural district, a minimum of 5 acres is required for any agricultural activity, Moldoff said.

In a town of 28,000 residents and dozens of businesses, there’s not a lot of room for any type of agricultural activity.

“A lot of the rural district is pretty much developed,” Moldoff said.

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