City mulls regulations for poultry population

VERGENNES — Vergennes could have an ordinance in place regulating backyard poultry by this summer.
As Councilor Jill Murray-Killon put it in response to a question at the council’s April 13 meeting, such a law would help city officials keep track of “any egg-laying feathered beast,” within city limits, including chicken, ducks and geese, but with the possible exception of a platypus.
Councilors David Austin and Murray-Killon had been studying the issue for the council in recent weeks in wake of citizen complaints about wandering fowl and noisy roosters.
Austin outlined the recommendations they would be making formally at the next council meeting, on April 27.
In essence, poultry would have to be contained on owners’ property, and related odors and vermin would have to be controlled, according to Austin.
Penalties for non-compliance would be through a tiered fine structure that would be more lenient for first-time offenders.
He and Murray-Killon aren’t recommending the new ordinance address roosters crowing, believing that issue is already covered in the city’s noise ordinance.
Austin added councilors remain open to “comments, criticism and suggestions” on a question that has at times caused hard feelings among residents.
Murray-Killon said helping everyone get along is the point of adopting such an ordinance, which the city attorney has reviewed and is close to submitting to the council for a read-through.
“We are looking to be in the business of co-existing with neighbors,” Murray-Killon said.
Among other business on April 13, councilors:
•  Heard from Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett that his panel will hold a public hearing on its proposed update to city zoning and subdivision laws on May 3, at 7 p.m.
•  Adopted a new conflict-of-interest policy for the council based on a Vermont League of Cities and Towns model policy. Councilors said the model could also apply to appointed city committees.
•  Agreed to join Maple Broadband, the Communications Union District (CUD) seeking to bring broadband internet service to all of Addison County. Maple Broadband representative Steve Huffaker of Ferrisburgh said Vergennes is the last county community not to belong to a CUD.
•  Backed City Clerk Britney Aube’s request to spend $38,000 up front and $3,000 on an annual basis from the city’s Restoration & Digitization Fund to digitize the city’s land records and tax maps.

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