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Tipline: Woman Seeks To Keep Her Chickens In Amherst | News

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Tipline: Woman Seeks To Keep Her Chickens In Amherst
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AMHERST, NY - Karen Marks bought a half dozen laying hens as chicks a year ago, in part to provide healthier food for her family.

"We wanted the eggs from a wholesome source of well fed, well cared for chickens," Marks told WGRZ-TV. "We weren't planning on them becoming a source of companionship but now they've really become part of the family."

Marks keeps the chickens in a wire sided coop attached to her garage and lets them out on occasion into her fenced in yard on a corner lot on Capen Boulevard.

This was to no one's consternation until recently, when she found a notice on her door from a town inspector advising her that zoning laws for her neighborhood forbid the harboring of livestock, and that the chickens would have to go.

"I was shocked," said Marks, who was told only that one of her neighbors cried "fowl". And, although she has no idea which one of them got their feathers all ruffled over her choice of pets, she knows for sure that she has an appointment next week before the town's Zoning Board Of Appeals, where she hopes to gain a variance allowing her to keep the birds.

She has an ally in Amherst Town Councilman Mark Manna.

"For the most case they (the chickens) are as docile as any household pet. There are dozens of towns throughout the country that have allowed this practice where the animals have been taken care of and the neighbors are not inconvenienced, and perhaps Amherst needs to adopt such a policy as well," Manna said.

Marks also has letters of support from a half dozen other neighbors, and if that weren't enough, she's got Mike Maholsic as a new wing man. Maholsic, who didn't know Marks, ambled up to her yard while we were interviewing her and asked if there was a petition he could sign in support of Marks and her hens.

"They're not running around making a mess or bothering anyone...she should be allowed to keep them," Maholsic said.

Marks isn't alone among Western New Yorkers seeking to keep chickens in neighborhoods ordinarily not accustomed to such things.

In November Channel 2 aired the story of a family in Lancaster family which had been notified by the town that their chickens and goats had to go for reasons of zoning, but who successfully challenged the town law in court and and were allowed to keep their birds.

"I'm hoping that the Zoning Board of Appeals grants us the variance and allows us to keep the chickens," said Marks. "If they don't we've talked to a real estate agent about moving, which really breaks our hearts," she said.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher from Eden.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's blogs.

This story came to us via our Tipline, which is always available on wgrz.com or by calling (716) 849-2220.

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