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- Penfield to allow residential "backyard chickens"

The Penfield Town Board adopted an amendment to Chapter 250 of the Town Code at its September 2 legislative meeting that will allow residents who live in single-family detached housing to keep a small flock of chickens for the sole purpose of egg production for personal use. A permit from Building/Zoning is required for this practice. This Ordinance, known as “Residential Chickens,” is effective immediately.

Before this change, Town Code required lot size of at least five acres to raise chickens. Under the new legislation, residents may own a designated number of chickens according to lot size: one-half acre or less may own six chickens; one-half to two acres may own 10 chickens, and two to five acres may own 15 chickens. The Ordinance establishes many rules regarding structures, maintenance, and ownership to protect public health and safety as well as the health of the animals. 

The Town received a petition in May proposing a change to Town Code to give property owners with lot sizes of less than five acres the ability to raise a small flock of well-maintained backyard chickens for egg production per personal use. Proponents cited that access to fresh eggs improves food security by providing a “source of healthy protein to many who might otherwise struggle to regularly provide this nutrition to their families.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has increased the public’s interest in personal sustainability around food sources—with particular enthusiasm for planting vegetable gardens and raising chickens for eggs to ensure access to fresh, nutritious food,” said Town Board member Bob Ockenden. “This is why I proposed a modification to the ordinance to allow ‘backyard chickens’ on fewer than five acres and in most residential zoning districts in Penfield. Giving our residents the ability to be in more control of their food sources is critical during these unusual times that appear to be extending well into our future.”  

Highlights from the Ordinance state that chickens may not be slaughtered, they may not occupy any space within 25 feet of adjacent residences or structures used by humans, coops may only be located in back yards, and roosters are not permitted on property of less than five acres.

Residents who wish to own a backyard flock must apply for a Residential Chicken permit from the Building Department and follow all criteria for enclosures and maintenance. Building Code may call for a second permit depending on the intended enclosure to house chickens. Building staff will advise on an individual basis. Public health and safety, and the well-being of chickens, is a priority.  Violations of the Ordinance may result in revocation of a permit. 




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