, Derry, New Hampshire


January 24, 2013


The keeping of livestock is once again an issue in Londonderry.

Last spring, a Thornton Road resident ran afoul of town regulations when he wanted to keep a few chickens on his 1-acre property. The town’s livestock ordinance requires 2 acres, so Fritz Brown’s chickens had to go.

Then, last summer, Health Officer Richard Canuel ordered Julio Otero-Rivera to not only remove all livestock, but also to cease and desist all slaughtering, processing, cooking and selling of animals on his Beacon Street property. Otero-Rivera’s 2-acre property was large enough for the livestock, but he did not have the proper facilities for a meat-processing operation, Canuel determined. Others living in the compact residential neighborhood had complained about the odors coming from the property.

Now, a Wiley Hill Road family must find bigger quarters for their horse after zoning officials told them their property wasn’t big enough to pasture it there. Jay Barrett had sought a zoning variance to keep the horse on his 1.6-acre lot, but his request was denied as the livestock ordinance requires homeowners to have 2 acres or more of land to keep animals like horses and chickens.

These three cases suggest some confusion about the proper place of animals in Londonderry and the nature of the town itself. Bluntly, does Londonderry wish to retain some of its rural, farming nature or is destined to move full speed ahead into cookie-cutter suburbia?

A review of Londonderry’s livestock ordinances would be in order, as would public input on the matter. Running a slaughterhouse and meat processing operation in a residential neighborhood seems a bit too much. Keeping a horse on 1.6 acres doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary. And banning a few chickens from anything less than 2 acres seems extreme. A half-dozen chickens pecking around a side yard was once a common sight in New England.

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