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This property on McKinley Avenue, which is one-third of an acre, has two horses living on it, in addition to other animals, such as chickens and quail. Neighbors consider it a health hazard.

DERRY | The Town Council is looking to pass a new ordinance that would regulate how much land people must have in order to keep horses, cows and other livestock on their property.

The council introduced the large animal ordinance on Tuesday. Chairman Craig Bulkley said there have been several situations lately that prompted the town to consider whether a large animal ordinance is necessary.

"Usually, it has to do with when someone brings an animal on a very small lot," Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey said at Tuesday's meeting.

Unlike many other towns, Derry has no laws regulating how much land is required to keep horses, cows, sheep, goats and other livestock.

There are also no New Hampshire laws regulating the amount of land a person needs to keep such animals. The state Department of Agriculture recommends at least 1 to 2 acres per horse. Chester, Windham, Londonderry and Hampstead require between 1 and 2 acres to have a horse.

Derry Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop said she received approximately 30 calls about livestock in the last year. Unless an animal is being mistreated, there is little town officials can do to prevent residents from keeping livestock.

Paul Kimball, who sent a letter to councilors last week encouraging them to adopt an ordinance, is upset because he said his McKinley Avenue neighbor has two horses living on a third of an acre.

In an interview before this week's meeting, which did not focus on this particular case, Kimball said the neighbor also has 16 cats, several chickens and an iguana.

Kimball is not only concerned about the animals' safety, but also the neighborhood's drinking water supply, because he claims his neighbor does not properly take care of the horses' manure.

Kimball said he and his neighbors receive their water from wells, and the horse manure creates a health hazard.

Ever since the horses arrived within the last year, Kimball said he and his neighbors have experienced a rodent problem that he believes stems from the manure.

Kimball and his neighbors said they have contacted the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but because Derry doesn't have an ordinance, there is nothing the organization can do.

"She's a good person and loves animals, it's just a little unfair to the animals," Kimball said. The neighbor, who did not attend the hearing, could not be reached for comment.

But Bulkley said the town may not be able to tell residents who already own animals that they have to get rid of their livestock if an ordinance were adopted.

"I think we'd have a tough road to hoe if we try to get rid of that animal," Bulkley said.

Councilor Janet Fairbanks said she would be in favor of fining people who violate the ordinance.

Resident Al Dimmock told the council it should be more aggressive in regulating all animals. He also said animals can be a nuisance to neighbors and that the town should regulate how many dogs people can own in certain parts of Derry.

The proposed ordinance will now go before the Planning Board to determine what acreage should be required for owning certain animals. Before being adopted by the council, the public will have a chance to voice their concerns at a public hearing.

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