Proposed ordinance could allow residents to keep chickens in West Springfield

Hampden County

West Springfield is considering an ordinance to allow residents to keep chickens on qualifying properties.

Some West Springfield residents are crying foul over a proposal to amend the city’s zoning ordinance.

Mayor Will Reichelt has proposed amending the city’s zoning ordinance, to allow residents to keep up to six hens on lots of at least a half acre.  

Hens kept on residential property could only be for personal use, and they must be kept in a coop, at least 50 feet from any neighboring homes.

The proposal ran into opposition at a public hearing Wednesday night.

“I don’t think that we need hens and chickens in very residential areas,” one West Springfield said in the meeting. “By having this, it’s obvious. By having ground feedings and things so forth like that, if it’s attracting bears and other wildlife.”

The proposed amendment does not allow the keeping of roosters. A special permit would be required to keep six hens on less than half an acre of land. And they’d have to prove the coop would not create a nuisance in terms of noise and odor.

Some residents said they are already keeping hens, and they support the city making a change.

“They give us fresh eggs every day,” said Mary Howes of West Springfield. “They’re pets. I don’t assume that everybody is going to jump on board and want to do this, but I think that making it legal for the people who maybe already have chickens or the people who have thought about doing this, you know it’s a really great way to offset costs.”

The Town Council has not yet taken a vote on the ordinance.

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