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Catskill residents criticize proposed livestock permit

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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene MediaLex Grey addresses the Catskill Village Board about a proposed livestock law
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    Backyard chickens on Koeppel Avenue in the village of Catskill in July.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Stan Raven, center, speaks about a proposed livestock law in the village of Catskill.
August 9, 2018 11:45 pm

CATSKILL — A proposed permit to regulate livestock in the village of Catskill caused some ruffled feathers among residents at Wednesday’s village board meeting.

Residents have owned livestock in the village over the past several years, including chickens and a pig, but it didn’t result in neighbor complaints or health concerns, Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley said during the meeting.

The village doesn’t have an ordinance relating to keeping farm animals, but has noise ordinances and health regulations. The discussion about barring livestock from village properties comes on the heels of a quality-of-life complaint a resident recently made to the Village Board of Trustees.

“We really haven’t acted on it like we did now,” Seeley said. “Nobody’s in trouble today, right now, but what we’re considering doing is making a permitting process that you would fill out some paperwork.”

One of the issues having chickens in a residential neighborhood is skunks and other critters are attracted to the eggs they lay, Seeley said.

“I want people to have pets, whether they’re dogs or cats, but I also want it to be managed in a way in the village that’s contained,” the village president added. “Fifteen chickens in a little, teeny slice of a village lot — it gets to be a little much.”

Bird feeders attract more wildlife than the eggs chickens lay, Tom Stupplebeen said, adding he owns 20 chickens at his home on Grandview Avenue.

“Do we have to register to have bird feeders?” Stupplebeen said. “There shouldn’t be a limit on the number of chickens [you can have].”

Stan Raven isn’t sure how a permitting process will help avoid noise in the village or potential health issues, he said.

“I like to preserve rights for other people and I think that the flip side of freedom is tolerance — tolerance for other people’s freedoms,” Raven said. “I love coming in here every two weeks, ’cause I get bored with Netflix.”

Local musician Lex Grey understands her fellow residents’ concerns about a permitting process for keeping livestock, but some rules could be enacted, she said, such as requiring animals be kept in an enclosure. Grey offered to help come up with the regulations.

“We live in close proximity to each other... respectfulness needs to prevail,” Grey said. “However, we are free. We are attracted to this community because we can make art, we can raise animals.

“If I can have hens in Brooklyn and not have hens in Catskill, that would be kind of crazy,” she added

The village attracts people from New York City because it offers a main street to walk and the ability to enjoy country life, Grey said after the meeting.

“We shouldn’t remove those joys because of one or two disgruntled people or irresponsible people,” she said.

The village can enact zoning regulations and rules for residents who live in close proximity to one another, which helps to maintain a quality of life, said village resident Deb Samuels, adding the village should place a limit on how many chickens a resident can have.

“I don’t think that it’s wrong to create a regulation for livestock in a village in which people live close to each other,” Samuels said. “People who have spoken here tonight have been very responsible and careful and good neighbors, but there is no way to regulate that.”

Seeley asked for thoughts from trustees after the meeting’s public comment period.

Animal owners and their neighbors should be able to reach a compromise, Trustee Stanley Dushane said, adding enough time had been spent on the discussion.

“Every time we go to do something in here, if you people don’t like it, you come to a meeting and complain to us and we’ve got to deal with the situation,” Dushane said. “I don’t see you people coming out here to deal with this, so we’re trying to work it out by saying we could do it. Give us a break.”

Trustee Joseph Kozloski suggested bringing something forward in a few weeks because board members have to absorb a lot of information from Wednesday’s meeting.

“I don’t think a permit is the way to go,” Kozloski said. “We have, like I said, a lot to digest.”

The board will further discuss pursuing a set of guidelines for keeping livestock, Seeley said.

“I don’t think we need to take it as far as a livestock law right now,” he said. “We have to have some regulations around it.”

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.

Roosters next door might get to be a bit much for those of us who prefer alarm clocks.

And how many chickens is too many chickens? 100? 200? What about the waste?

What about the impact on neighbors? We already have a feral cat problem and skunks looking for housing under our porch. At some point where neighbors can't work this stuff out, government comes into play.