WINSLOW — The Town Council has taken initial steps to approve new rules that will allow residents to keep chickens on their property for personal use.

The proposed ordinance lays out standards for keeping chickens that residents would have to follow, including restrictions on the number and gender of birds, enclosures and housing. In order to keep chickens, residents would have to pay the town a $10 annual license fee and allow the code enforcement officer to inspect and approve chicken housing.

The new regulations were sponsored by Councilor Steve Russell, who represents District 5, a mostly rural area on the east side of town. Councilors approved the regulations unanimously in a first vote Monday night and need to take a second vote at a meeting in March before the ordinance goes into effect.

According to council documents, the ordinance was proposed by the town’s Agricultural Commission to address the growing interest in keeping chickens for personal use in town. The proposal provides standards that aim to make sure people follow good animal husbandry practices and gives the town code enforcement officer leeway to act if residents violate town rules, Russell said Monday at the meeting.

Town Manager Michael Heavener said the town’s current ordinances allow chickens to be kept only for commercial poultry operations. Winslow residents are not allowed to keep household chickens for eggs and other uses, he said.

Under the new regulations, residents living on at least 7,000-square-foot parcels — about one-sixth of an acre — would be able to keep up to six chickens, and no more than 12 birds could be kept on plots bigger than 1 acre. Also, keeping chickens would not be permitted in multi-family complexes, people would not be allowed to keep male birds over 10 weeks old, they could not slaughter chickens outdoors and they could not advertise the sale of eggs, breeding or fertilizer.

Owners would be required to keep chickens in secure enclosures on lots less than 2 acres and within a hen house at night. The enclosures and hen houses would have to be clean, odor-free and sanitary and could not be located in the front yard.

The proposal would require chicken owners to keep a hen house, but it would prohibit using scrap metal or board to build the structure.

If residents violate the rules, they could be fined up to $100 or be ordered by the code enforcement officer to remove chickens.

The Waterville City Council in 2012 passed a similar ordinance that allow residents to keep chickens on their property.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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