Lock family disappointed by town's orders
By Ron Giofu/The Amherstburg Echo
Posted 5 hours ago
AMHERSTBURG — Aaron and Sarah Lock had planned to teach their children where food comes from and to get fresh eggs.
The Park Lane Circle residents acquired four chickens July 5 and placed them into a coop in a small, fenced area on their property. Thanks to a complaint from one of their neighbors, the couple was forced to get rid of the chickens by order of the town.
The fact they were forced to get rid of their chickens was news the Locks found disappointing as they said they took consideration of their neighbors when acquiring the birds. Aaron said they bought four chickens and no rooster.
"We didn't want a rooster. They are noisy. We didn't want to disturb the neighbors," he said.
The coop is a portion of land located the furthest it could be from neighbors in the subdivision and Aaron said the location actually quieted the area down as their dog can no longer get to the fence and bark at pedestrians and other dogs. He said they have not had any smells or noise coming from the chickens.
"The cars are louder. The birds in the trees are louder," he said.
The town's bylaw officer called the couple Aug. 8 and attended the home Aug. 9 with a notice requiring the couple to have the chickens off the property by Aug. 16. Faced with few alternatives, Aaron told the Echo last week that they would likely turn them over to the same group in McGregor that a series of Windsor residents did when faced with similar chicken-related issues.
"We've had three or four people offer to take in our birds," added Sarah.
Aaron said they made an effort to call town hall in early June to see if it was legal to house the chickens in their subdivision but did not receive a response.
"We took that as affirmation," he said.
The Locks are unsure as to who complained to the town, but wished the person or people would have come to them first so they could have explained what they had planned.
"We were very disappointed when the complainant didn't talk to us," said Aaron. "I don't know the nature of the complaint. I don't know who the complainant was. We've talked to neighbors and they don't see an issue."
He said the chickens were "treated very well" and that not only would they have benefitted from fresh eggs, the manure compost was going to go into the Lock's vegetable garden.
"It's the whole cycle of food," he said.
Since they were told poultry is not permitted in the residential subdivision, the Locks are considering moving from the house they have lived in since 1997. They are thinking about moving to an agriculturally zoned area, although they considered their chickens both birds and pets.
"I think if we have to move based on this, it will be outside the town," he said.
Aaron said they never had any intention on selling any of the eggs or any other product and believed the town should be "progressive" like Vancouver and New York which he said are starting to allow urban chickens as long as there is no rooster.
"We're not causing anyone any harm," he said.
CAO Pamela Malott confirmed Monday night there was a violation. Malott received a complaint from a resident regarding the keeping or raising of chickens in the Park Lane Circle home.
"The identity of the complainant and nature of complaint, while known to town administration, is kept confidential," Malott said in an e-mail Tuesday morning. "Administration deals with any contravention to a town bylaw."
Malott stated that town staff met with the Locks Aug. 9 at roughly 3:40 p.m. adding
"they are keeping four chickens in their rear yard for the purpose of consuming the eggs the hens lay and to use the feces from the chickens as fertilizer in their garden."
The inspection disclosed the property to be in violation with the Amherstburg Zoning Bylaw 1999-52.
The keeping of "poultry in the form of chicken hens" in a residential area is not a permitted use, the town contends.
"We served Mr. & Mrs. Lock with a Notice of Violation granting them 14-days to completely cease the restricted use," Malott stated. "I am unaware of details of any contact they attempted to have with town staff."