DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

September 26, 2013

Editorial: Cock-a-doodle-don't

(Continued)

Others, perhaps including the neighbors of that boisterous banty, subscribe to the philosophy espoused by Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, “Off with their heads.”

The Planning Board needs to find a happy medium. But that may prove as difficult as figuring out why the chicken crossed the road.

Planners have turned to longtime Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop for some advice. She suggests roosters not be allowed in residential areas. She also advised the board to add this language to the nuisance section: “At no time shall roosters be allowed on property in condensed areas as to create a nuisance.”

While her decades of experience are valuable and some of her suggestions are sound, this really scrambles the eggs.

What about those residents with 3, 5, even 10 acres in “residential areas?” Would they, too, be barred from introducing a rooster for breeding purposes?

No resident should have to sleep year round with windows sealed up tight and a white noise machine running in the bedroom to block out the unwelcome cock-a-doodle-do.

The bucolic image of a proud rooster perched on a fence post with a rising sun behind is lovely, but regularly being awakened by an unhappy bird next door is not.

But common sense, the freedom to enjoy fresh eggs and neighborliness should rule here.

There’s a lot of unwelcome noise in the neighborhood — lawnmowers winding up at 7 on a Sunday morning, fireworks displays that wake the baby and set off the dog, backyard karaoke parties full of tone-deaf guests.

To prevent residents from keeping small backyard flocks — within the proper boundaries and with defined enclosures — flies in the face of what makes New Hampshire a fierce and independent place to live.

Planners should not increase the minimum acreage requirement to keep chickens, nor should they expect roosters or their keepers to time their crowing. They can, however, fine-tune the nuisance section to address those errant birds who just won’t shut up or the flock owner who doesn’t care if their neighbors ever get an uninterrupted night of sleep.

There’s a bad egg in every neighborhood, but rules shouldn’t be based on the possibility that one of them wants to keep roosters.

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