BARNEGAT, NJ – Christopher Aguilar and Brandon Baker are next-door neighbors in Barnegat. As it turns out, they both like chickens. To make it clear, they both enjoy the fresh eggs their hens lay. And no, this isn’t a story asking which came first – the chicken or the egg. It seems it’s only the chickens that could be the problem.
Add in a morning rooster, and you may be able to understand what prompted Aguilar and Baker to attend the most recent Barnegat Township Committee meeting. They say that an existing ordinance prohibits them from keeping live poultry.
Neither of the young men is looking to ruffle any feathers. However, they think the local laws need to be changed. They’ve heard the Township ordinance requires an acre of land to keep chickens at home. Meanwhile, the zoning laws don’t seem to differentiate raising and keeping of farm animals from poultry. For domestic use, Ordinance 55-9, says it’s one farm animal per acre.
“Officers like to visit my house because of my surrounding neighbors calling anonymously,” said Aguilar. “We’d like to get the ordinance revised.”
Aguilar named a few neighboring towns where’s it perfectly legal to keep fowl with less property. Waretown’s ordinance says they need their own building for shelter and can’t be within 50 feet of any adjacent property line or within 100 feet of any dwelling house.
Mayor Al Cirulli acknowledged that he was aware of the two chicken owners’ requests. “We saw the correspondence, and we are discussing it,” he said. “I can’t give you an answer right now.”
“A flock of four chickens only requires a 10’ x 10’ area, which is 100 square feet,” submitted Aguilar. “The coup itself only requires 4’ x 4,’ which is 16 square feet.”
As far as Aguilar and Baker are concerned, they both have adequate space to meet the accommodations of their chickens. They dispute the need for an entire acre.
“The rooster is the biggest issue because he crows,” acknowledged Aguilar. “The ordinance needs to include roosters because they protect their flock.”
Both Aguilar and Baker relayed a story of concern. It seems that someone left two huskies tied outside their house, who somehow broke off their leash.
“My yard was not fenced in at that time, but the chickens were in a coop,” Aguilar said. “The rooster saved the hen from the dogs and had all his tail feathers ripped out.”
In making their case, the two neighbors explained that roosters also fertilize the ground. It’s common practice to keep roosters in black boxes at night to eliminate concerns of nighttime "cock-a-doodle-doos."
As far as noise concerns, Aguilar submitted there were other kinds of sounds during the day. He mentioned dogs barking, children crying, and horns beeping.
Police have stopped by when neighbors complain about the rooster crowing at 7:30 in the morning. However, neither of the chicken owners has been served with a citation.
“Personally, I don’t have a problem with it,” said the Barnegat mayor. “This is the first time something like this has ever come up, and the Committee will discuss it. We have to consider how this affects the rest of the people in the area and the Township, as a whole.”
Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com.