Bennington

Voters to be asked to allow chickens, ducks in all districts of town

BENNINGTON ­— Recent concerns over the safety of chickens and ducks in the Village District have led to a town-proposed warrant article to go before voters in March, calling for an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow the non-commercial keeping of these animals in all districts of town.

This amendment to the zoning ordinance is recommended by the Planning Board and Select Board, according to Deputy Town Administrator Kristie LaPlante in an interview Tuesday. She said the discussion about chickens and ducks began back in October when a resident living in the Village District contacted the town office because they were concerned about the safety of their neighbors’ chickens. “They wanted to make sure [the chickens] were in a safe place since they were near the road,” LaPlante said. After reading the town’s zoning ordinance, LaPlante said town officials realized that this person technically was not allowed to have chickens or ducks on their property because their house is within the Village District. The Village District includes the bulk of downtown, LaPlante said, stretches out beyond Route 31 and also encompasses the bulk of Route 202 towards Hancock. According to the town’s zoning ordinance, the Rural/Agricultural district is currently the only area in Bennington where residents can keep poultry.

“It’s more common nowadays to have chickens and ducks,” LaPlante said. “There are so many people who reap the health benefits of having chickens and ducks.”

The Planning Board is proposing the amendment to allow chickens and ducks in all town zones under the conditions that the animals kept in the Village District are confined to a pen or structure, and newly constructed housing for poultry, including pens, must meet all setback requirements of the zone in which the lot is located.

Since no one from the public contested the proposed amendment at the public hearing Monday, LaPlante said the verbiage written by the Planning Board will go forward as is to the Town Meeting ballot.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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