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Girl, 10, wins pass for 4 pet chickens

Officials relent in Easthampton

EASTHAMPTON - Froney, Guinevere, Gurley, and Mable can stay home to roost, after the chickens' 10-year-old owner took on the town's Zoning Board.

Town officials granted pet status to the four chickens Tuesday night. Their owners had been told they were keeping illegal livestock and would have to give them up.

But Sylvan Lorenz, 10, convinced the Easthampton Zoning Board the birds were not poultry.

"When we first heard our pets were illegal, we were sad, but we decided we would do whatever we could to save our pets," Sylvan told the board. "I want the town of Easthampton to be the best it can be, and not allowing people to love and care for their pets is not helping."

Sylvan and her 8-year-old brother, Finnegan, have raised the birds since early this summer when the chicks were a day old.

Neighbors who had been told they could not raise chickens on their property had turned in the Lorenz family to a zoning enforcement officer. He notified the family they were in violation of a town zoning bylaw that prohibits poultry or other flocks of farm animals in their zoning district. He ordered them to get rid of the hens.

But the board said the bylaw was not clear in its definitions.

"What's a farm animal?" said David Gardner, of the Zoning Board. "Dogs live on farms. Are they farm animals, too? I disagree that a chicken is always a farm animal. I think it can be a pet."

The board voted 5 to 0 to allow the chickens to remain, but also voted to limit the number of pet chickens at the home to four.

"It feels really good," Sylvan said after the hearing. "I learned a lot about the Zoning Board, too."

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