The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


Zoning board hears plea for chickens at Katonah property


A Katonah resident’s claim of a right to keep her four chickens on her one-third-acre lot on South Road led to complaints from neighbors at a Feb. 5 public zoning hearing, who said the chickens were attracting rats to the area.

Homeowner Pauline Schneider applied to Bedford’s zoning board for a variance that would allow her to continue to keep chickens on her property. Bedford’s town code prohibits keeping fowl on a quarter-acre zoned lot, which Ms. Schneider’s property is zoned as, despite it being larger. She said at the hearing that she keeps chickens as a sustainability measure to prevent her from driving to a market for fresh eggs and that raising your own hens decreases the risk of salmonella poisoning from store-bought eggs. She also said the practice is preferable to factory farming.

“Only recently, during this atomic age, did humans begin sending chickens into filthy concentration camps, pumping them with hormones and antibiotics and crowding them so close together that their beaks have to be systematically removed,” Ms. Schneider said. “We somehow thought that was a reasonable alternative to keeping a few hens in the yard.”

David Lyness, who moved onto the property next to Ms. Schneider’s on South Road in 2010, said he has had no problems with rodents until she began keeping her chickens last year.

“We started to see an abundance of rats that basically came out of nowhere,” he said at the hearing. “Over the course of May to December, I caught the better part of 15 rats, large Norway rats, the kind you find in New York City.”

Mr. Lyness said he and his wife kept their children from playing in their yard through the rest of the year because of the rats. He said his experiences living on a farm in New Jersey led him to conclude that his neighbor’s chicken feed was attracting them to the area.

“I grew up on a 130-acre farm. We raised chickens, pigs, cows, vegetables, everything of the sort. I understand the problems that come with raising poultry,” he said. “Chickens, you feed them chicken feed. Rats are directly correlated to chicken feed. Where the feed is, the rats are. They go hand in hand.”

Theresa Cohn, who lives down the street from Ms. Schneider and has lived on South Road for 45 years, said rats in the neighborhood are a new problem and blamed them on the chickens.

“I had two rats in my house, never had them before,” she said. “We had an abundance of mice that we’ve never had before.”

Ms. Schneider did receive support at the hearing from friends who do not live in the immediate neighborhood.

Michele Du Rivage, a Goldens Bridge resident, said that when she lived on nearby Huntville Road from 2008 to 2011, rats were already present.

“There were always a couple of rats running around in my yard,” she said at the hearing.

Bedford resident John Metaxas said that anything a government body could do to lighten the financial burden on its residents, including letting them keep their own chickens, is beneficial.

“Chickens are wholly within the rural tradition and the farming tradition of Bedford,” he said at the hearing. “There is a sound public policy argument that can be made that this can help citizens to make it financially in our town.”

Ms. Schneider said she keeps her chicken feed in a rodent-resistant bin and that factors other than chickens can attract rats.

“We have a stream near us and we had a drought in spring. We had no snow in the winter, so what the rats need is water and food, and with bird feeders rooting over constantly, vegetable gardens all over the place, dog food bowls out, it’s a community issue,” she said. “Everybody has a hand in this.”

Peter Michaelis, chairman of Bedford’s zoning board, said that the board would most likely not be able to approve a variance for Ms. Schneider and that the issue would be more appropriately discussed with the town board. He said that the only way zoning officials could allow chickens on Ms. Schneider’s property is if she could somehow prove that not keeping them would lead to a financial hardship.

“I can’t see how we can grant a use variance right now because there’s just no hardship or financial problem associated with selling your house,” Mr. Michaelis said at the hearing. “The way I interpret that, it would mean you couldn’t sell your house at a reasonable price unless it comes with the chickens. I can’t see making that connection.”

Additionally, the chairman said if the board were to grant a variance, it would be tied to the property, not to the applicant, and it would set a precedent of allowing chickens in quarter-acre zoned lots. He said that keeping chickens is legal in larger zoned lots and that they could be kept in a chicken co-op, such as at the John Jay Homestead.

An official ruling on the issue is delayed until at least April 3, as when Ms. Schneider testified at the hearing, two board members were absent, Meredith Black and Andrea Schaefer. Zoning board member Clark Petschek said an applicant has the right to appeal to a full board.

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February 15, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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