Support to allow backyard chickens in Albany, NY

We are requesting that the common council add or amend an ordinance that will allow residents to keep up to ten backyard hens.

 A.   The keeping of chickens in the city supports a local, sustainable food system by providing an affordable, nutritious source of protein through fresh eggs.
 B.  The keeping of chickens also provides free, quality, nitrogen-rich fertilizer; chemical-free pest control; animal companionship and pleasure; weed control; and less noise, mess and expense than dogs and cats. The purpose of this petition is to provide support for standards for the keeping of domesticated chickens and to propose specified chicken regulations. It is intended to enable residents to keep a small number of female chickens on a non-commercial basis while limiting the potential adverse impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.

Permit Required.
An annual permit is required for the keeping of any domesticated chickens in the City of Albany. 


A.   No person shall operate or maintain any specified animal facility unless a permit has first been obtained from the Director. (Director is defined as the Director of the Albany County Health Department or the director's designee)

 B.   Applications for specified animal facility permits shall be made upon forms furnished by the Director, and shall be accompanied by payment of the required fee.  Specified animal facility permits shall be valid from the date of issuance until such time a the Director determines by inspection that the facility is not being maintained in compliance with the issuance criteria.  Applications for a specified animal facility permit shall be accompanied by adequate evidence, as determined by the Director, that the applicant has notified all of the property owners and residents within 150 feet of the property lines of the property on which the specified animal facility will be located.

 C.   The Director shall issue a specified animal facility permit to the applicant, only after the Director has reviewed a completed and signed application which grants the Director permission to enter and inspect the facility at any reasonable time, and assuring the Director that the issuance criteria have been met.  If the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an inspection is necessary, the Director shall inspect the facility in order to determine whether the issuance criteria have been met.  The criteria for issuing a specified animal facility permit are as follows:

 1.   The facility is in good repair, capable of being maintained in a clean and in a sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances;

 2.   The facility will not create a nuisance or disturb neighboring residents due to noise, odor, damage or threats to public health;

 3.   The facility will reasonably prevent the specified animal from roaming at large.  When necessary for the protection of the public health and safety, the Director may require the specified animal be kept or confined in a secure enclosure so that the animal will not constitute a danger to human life or property;

 4.   Adequate safeguards are made to prevent unauthorized access to the specified animal by general members of the public;

 5.  The health or well being of the animal will not be in any way endangered by the manner of keeping or confinement;

 6.  The facility will be adequately lighted and ventilated;

 7.   The facility is located on the applicant's property so as to be at least 15 feet from any building used or capable of being used for human habitation, not including the applicant's own dwelling.  Facilities for keeping bees, such as beehives or apiaries, shall be at least 15 feet from any public walkway, street or road, or any public building, park or recreation area, or any residential dwelling.  Any public walkway, street, or road or any public building, park or recreation area, or any residential dwelling, other than that occupied by the applicant, that is less than 150 feet from the applicant beehives or apiaries shall be protected by a six foot hedgerow, partition, fence or similar enclosure around the beehive or apiary, installed on the applicant's property.

 8.  If applicable, the structure must comply with the City's building code and must be consistent with the requirements of any applicable zoning code, condition of approval of a land use decision or other land use regulation; and

Permit fees

A.   The application for a specified animal facility permit shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee.

B.    The Director may establish application fees at amounts reasonably calculated to cover the costs of administration and enforcement of the specified animal facility program.  Before such fees may become effective, the Director shall submit the fee schedule to the Portland City Council for review and approval by ordinance.

Number and Type of Chickens Allowed.

A.  The maximum number of chickens allowed is ten (10) per lot.
B.  Only female chickens are allowed. There is no restriction on chicken species.


A. Chickens must be kept in an enclosure or fenced area at all times. During daylight hours, chickens may be allowed outside of their chicken pens in a securely fenced yard if supervised. Chickens shall be secured within the henhouse during non-daylight hours.
      1.  Enclosures must be clean, dry, and odor-free, kept in a neat and sanitary condition at all times, in a manner that will not disturb the use or enjoyment of neighboring lots due to noise, odor or other adverse impact.
      2.  The hen house and chicken pen must provide adequate ventilation and adequate sun and shade and must both be impermeable to rodents, wild birds, and predators, including dogs and cats.

 B.  Hen houses
       1.  A henhouse shall be provided and shall be designed to provide safe and healthy living conditions for the chickens while minimizing adverse impacts to other residents in
the neighborhood.
       2. The structures shall be enclosed on all sides and shall have a roof and doors. Access doors must be able to be shut and locked at night. Opening windows and vents must be covered with predator- and bird-proof wire of less than one (1) inch openings.

       3. The henhouse shall be well-maintained.
       4.   Henhouses shall not be placed in the front yard.
 C. Chicken Pens

       1. An enclosed chicken pen must be provided consisting of sturdy wire fencing. The pen must be covered with wire, aviary netting, or solid roofing.

Odor and Noise Impacts.
 A.   Odors from chickens, chicken manure, or other chicken-related substances shall not be perceptible at the property boundaries.
 B. Perceptible noise from chickens shall not be loud enough at the property boundaries to disturb persons of reasonable sensitivity. This proposed ordinance limits the number of chickens to ten and requires that they be provided with a minimum amount of space and in a clean and dry hen house, and that they be provided with a fenced outdoor enclosure.  When cared for in this way, chickens do not emit odors.  By limiting the number of chickens and describing the space in which they can be kept, this proposed zoning addition ensures the happiness of the chickens, their owners, and their neighbors.


 C. All specified animal facilities shall be open at all times for inspection by the Director.  If an inspection reveals that any provision in this Chapter is violated, the Director shall give written notice to the keeper or other responsible person, specifying the violation and requiring that the violation be corrected within 48 hours.  If the violation is not corrected within the period specified, the Director may revoke the specified animal facility permit.

 D.  The Director may revoke any specified animal facility permit upon determining that the facility no longer meets the conditions required for the issuance of a permit or that the permit was issued upon fraudulent or untrue representations or that the person holding the permit has violated any of the provisions of this Chapter.

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