By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Roosters crow, but town officials hope to figure out ways to make sure they don’t do it too early in the morning.
The Planning Board is looking at ways to update livestock ordinance rules in town. That includes putting stricter limits on residents who own roosters.
After hearing some complaints earlier this year from residents living next door to noisy roosters, board members started looking over the town’s animal ordinance to make some potential changes.
In 2009, Derry enacted an updated animal ordinance which covers livestock, including roosters and chickens. But some rules need to be tightened up, officials say.
Some residents said existing rules aren’t being followed.
Phillip Bruno told officials earlier this year his Windham Road neighborhood was being held prisoner by one neighbor’s noisy rooster.
“I know you can’t stop people from having roosters, but at least have some kind of control to house them at night,” he told town officials.
Right now, residents need at least 1 acre to house any agricultural livestock, excluding sheep, swine and goats. All fowl pens kept on fewer than 2 acres are required to have wire mesh or poly-mesh roofs.
An updated ordinance could increase the minimum lot to 3 acres if residents want to own a rooster.
Right now, Bruno’s neighbor follows the rules when it comes to his lot size and coop location.
But it’s the rooster isn’t as compliant.
Richard Tripp also lives on Windham Road and told town councilors last week that every time his neighbor rooster crows, it makes his dog bark. He wanted to know what constitutes a “public nuisance” when it comes to animal noise.
“Would the town be as lenient with me (and my dog) as a public nuisance?” he asked.
A nuisance could also be odors from manure or other items being stockpiled on someone’s property, in addition to animal sounds.
Potential upgrades to the ordinance could include putting a time limit on when a rooster is allowed to crow, something that might prove a bit difficult.
“How do you stop roosters from crowing from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.?” Planning Board Chairman David Granese said.
Board member John O’Connor happened to know the answer as he once studied poultry and horticulture.
“You have to block out all the light so it won’t crow,” he said.
Board member Randy Chase said he thinks the town might be picking on its roosters.
“There are far more dogs in town that bark at night,” he said, “and we have nothing for that.”
Officials said it’s time to put some concrete rules down to take care of all animal noise and define what is allowed. This time around, animal control had some input as well.
Town Planner George Sioras said Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop has 30 years of experience and a lot of good ideas.
“She has seen it all,” he said.
Bishop made some suggestions to an updated ordinance, including adding language to specify what constitutes a public nuisance.
By updating the ordinance, officials said they may have more teeth when it comes to enforcing animal rules.
Livestock talk will continue at a future Planning Board meeting.