Town of Waldwick cries foul over backyard chickens; resident plans a petition

A Bergen County man says he wants to raise chickens in his backyard, but the town of Waldwick won't let him. (5/30/14)

WALDWICK - A Bergen County man says he wants to raise chickens in his backyard, but the town of Waldwick won't let him.

Steven Weber wants to be part of a growing movement toward self-sufficient living. He decided raising chickens in his backyard would be a good first step.

"Basically, I have three kids," Weber says. "I want to provide a healthier way of living for them. So I thought it would be a good idea."

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Raising chickens is becoming a popular trend as homeowners strive to eat organic, locally grown food. But the idea ruffled the feathers of Waldwick town officials.

The current rules in Waldwick say you have to have at least 5 acres of land in order to own chickens. Officials say the town is too densely populated to allow people with smaller lots to have chickens in their yards.

"There is an issue with sanitation of the chickens, because they're not exactly the cleanest of animals," says Waldwick Borough Administrator Gary Kratz. "There's a concern they will introduce potential vermin into the town - coyotes or foxes - that will make the chickens their food."

Weber's neighbors are mixed on the idea.

"I would absolutely love that, actually," says Ryan Martens. "I was thinking about doing it myself."

The city council voted against Weber, but he plans to get his neighbors' signatures on a petition.

Several towns in the Garden State, including East Rutherford and Wayne, recently relaxed their rules on allowing homeowners to raise chickens, after residents petitioned.

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