WATERVILLE — The Waterville Planning Board on Monday will review rules for the keeping of chickens at the request of a Pleasantdale Avenue resident who apparently is violating those rules and wants them to be less restrictive.

Former City Councilor Phil Bofia, who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the recent election, told the council Oct. 20 that he has six chickens on his property and he didn’t know the city has an ordinance mandating a property must be at least 10,000 square feet in size to keep those chickens. He says the ordinance is too restrictive.

Phil Bofia Contributed photo

But his next-door neighbor, Danielle Bragg, disagrees.

“I have a number of concerns, including the potential of increased predators,” Bragg said in an email to the Planning Board. “Alongside the potential breeding ground for vermin or releasing offensive odors, would be the proximity to my home. When I purchased my home in 2013, these ordinances were set in place. I knew I would not have a reasonable concern for a coop to be constructed within 10 feet of my home.”

Bragg questions whether the city should change ordinances for one resident who did not look into the rules before buying hens.

“Now, this is in no way a reflection of my neighbor’s ability to care for his coop, hens, and surrounding area,” her email says.


The Planning Board on Monday will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in Room 178 of Mid-Maine Technical Center at Waterville Senior High School — a different room than the board has been meeting in the last several weeks. Room 178 is accessible from the rear of the building and is just beyond the outside entrance to Mid-Day Café if one approaches the building from the parking lot off Messalonskee Avenue.

The board will consider making a recommendation to the council, which has the final say, about whether the city’s zoning ordinance should be changed regarding chicken rules. The Planning Board has authority to recommend zoning changes, but cannot change zoning rules, according to City Planner Ann Beverage.

Beverage said Friday that Bofia did not get the required permit from the city before housing chickens on his property.

“His coop is too close to the property line,” she said. “The neighbor raised the issue with the Planning Board and she sent an email.”

Waterville resident Danielle Bragg submitted this photo as part of a complaint to the city that her neighbor, former City Councilor Phil Bofia, built a chicken coop in violation of the city ordinance. Photo courtesy of Danielle Bragg

The city’s zoning ordinance says no more than six female chickens are allowed on a property and must be kept as pets and for personal use only  — not for commercial use. The sale of eggs or fertilizer and breeding chickens is prohibited. Chicken species allowed are limited to laying hens and the keeping of birds bred for meat is not allowed. Raising of more than six chickens is subject to a section of the zoning ordinance that addresses animal husbandry and boarding kennels and allowed only in the Rural Residential Zone.

Hens must be kept in enclosed areas, but during daylight hours, they may be in outdoor wire pens, according to the ordinance.  At night, chickens must be secured within henhouses that must be located at least 15 feet from side and rear property lines and at least 20 feet from the nearest residence existing at the time of permit issuance — other than the dwelling on the same lot. Henhouses and pens are not allowed in front yards. Henhouse and pens must be inspected by the code enforcement officer for a fee of $25.


The City Council voted 3-3 Oct. 20 to refer to the Planning Board for public hearing and recommendation a request from Bofia to reconsider changing regulations in the zoning ordinance regarding the keeping of chickens.

Mayor Nick Isgro broke the tie in favor of sending the matter to the Planning Board. Councilors Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, Flavia Oliveira, D-Ward 2, and Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, voted against referring the matter to the Planning Board. Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, and councilors Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and Rick Foss, R-Ward 5, voted to refer it to the board.

Bofia did not respond this week to phone and email messages seeking comment on the chicken issue.


The board on Monday also will consider recommending to the City Council possible zoning ordinance revisions that would allow a $4 million-plus community skating rink to be built by the Alfond Youth & Community Center on city-owned property next to the center at 132 North St. The skating rink would be housed in a 28,800-square-foot building to be constructed on the site, between the municipal pool and playground and tennis courts.

Again, the board may only recommend zoning changes and the council would make the final decision.


In this case, the city is requesting part of the North Street property be rezoned from Resource Protection to Institutional Zone; that the shoreland part of the property be rezoned from Resource Protection to Class B Shoreland; and that the building setback be reduced in the Institutional Zone.

The board will also consider an informal preapplication for the community ice rink. No vote is expected.

If the rink project is ultimately approved, the city would lease the property on which it is built to the Alfond Center. It would be a 99-year lease, like the one the city has for the Alfond Center itself.

Some neighbors in the area have concerns about the proposed rink.

Anna Thomas said in an email to the Morning Sentinel that she lives a few hundred feet from that area and didn’t know anything about the plan.

“I love seeing the people play basketball in that part of the recreation area, and kids playing on the hillside and in between the grove of trees, and folks connecting to the river walk there,” Thomas said. “It took me by surprise that the whole space might be leased for construction, including a parking lot that would displace the basketball court. The public court was my first worry when I read the news.”


Thomas said she thinks the city should not rush into leasing a public space that is currently and actively used by the community. Any decision-making about leasing the space should be a public process with lots of opportunity for community input, according to Thomas.


The board will consider recommending to the City Council that it approve proposed rules regarding short-term residential rental units in the city.

The city’s zoning ordinance does not now include regulations for short-term residential rentals. The city started exploring proposed regulations after receiving complaints from people who live next or near to them.

Planning Board members for a few months have been discussing proposed rules and recently, board member Steve Crate volunteered to head up a committee to investigate rules that would be appropriate for such units in Waterville.

Beverage said Friday that the committee looked at rules in other communities as part of its work.

The proposed rules the board will consider Monday include recommendations from the committee, as well as suggestions made by board members at their last meeting.

Short-term residential rentals are defined in the proposed rules as dwelling units or rooms in dwelling units in residential zones, used for stays of less than 30 days.


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