City in Westchester Votes Against Backyard Hens

New Rochelle's City Council began considering the idea when two young sisters wrote a letter to the mayor in January

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012  |  Updated 11:20 PM EDT
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New Rochelle Votes Against Backyard Hens

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A city council in Westchester County voted against a proposal Tuesday night to allow residents to keep chickens on their property.

New Rochelle's city council voted 4-3 against changing city code to allow residents to keep chickens.

The city doesn't allow chickens in any backyards less than two acres, and even then, each hen must be allotted an acre of space.

The proposed change would have allowed homeowners would allowed to keep up to six chickens if they have at least two acres of land and adhere to a number of conditions regarding pens, and roosters would have been prohibited.

New Rochelle's City Council began considering the idea in January, when two sisters, 15-year-old Emma Peister and 12-year-old Sophia Peiste, wrote a letter to the mayor, according to The Journal News.

"My sister and I would really love to have 3 hens for the purpose of egg consumption," they wrote. "We are also excited in terms of having them as cute and manageable pets."

"They're easier than dogs," the girls told NBC New York before the meeting Tuesday. "You just have to heat their cage in the winter, and pet them. It's becoming more popular in New York and other areas. There's really nothing wrong with it."

Westchester County community educator Nancy Caswell told The Journal News that raising hens has become increasingly popular in the lower Hudson Valley in the last five to six years.

New York City and White Plains allow chickens, while Yonkers does not, according to The Journal News. Mount Vernon has no chicken laws on its books, and so it follows the state's guidelines and identifies chickens as domestic animals, the same as dogs and cats.

Ossining village officials are also considering a change to allow backyard hens, and will discuss the issue next week.

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