Urban chickens: City board lays an egg on try at sustainability

Audra Karp of Roslindale will now have to go to her father’s home in Ashland for fresh-egg omelets.

Audra Karp of Roslindale will now have to go to her father’s home in Ashland for fresh-egg omelets.



Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals yesterday unanimously rejected her request to keep her three hens at her Firth Street home. Karp was told by city officials months ago that she had to get rid of them because they were not allowed under zoning codes. They are now being cared for by her father.



“It’s important for us to grow and raise food and that we know where our food comes from,” she said during yesterday’s hearing.



While she said the outcome was disappointing, Karp’s effort to keep her chickens has not ended and she will work with city officials to change policy. Her effort is also part of a movement that has made its way across the country and Massachusetts.



Chickens are allowed in various cities including in Newton where city health inspectors regulate them. John McNally, a Newton environmental health specialist, said there are as many as 40 hens in that city, which does ban roosters because they make more noise. He said that requests to keep chickens has increased in the last three to four years because more people are raising them for their eggs and are keeping them as pets.



Robert Litt, who co-authored the book “A Chicken in Every Yard” said the vote “does seriously call in to question [Boston’s] green credibility.”



“Odor is rare and noise … they are less noisy than even a small dog,” he said.



City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who represents Roslindale, opposed the request and said it could set a dangerous precedent. However, he said he would work with Karp to possibly change the regulations.

 
 
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