Northampton Zoning Changes for Sustainability?

Lilly Lombard of Northampton, MA writes:

Hilltown Pets

Raising chickens in the backyard is not only sustainable, but educational and fun for families too! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

I attended Northampton’s Zoning Revisions Committee tonight (recently formed to recommend zoning changes more inline with “sustainability”) and spoke for about 5 minutes encouraging the Committee to revise our current zoning ordinance that restricts most urban residences to 3 female fowl (and prohibits keeping goats, sheep, etc). I described how these laws were adopted during the era of cheap oil when people became separated from food production, and food started traveling 1000s of miles to reach our tables. For food security and economic resilience, I argued, we need to give people maximum control over their food sources, including raising their own livestock, yes, even in town. I emailed research on many other cities that have revised their ordinances (eg. Seattle now allows dwarf goats).

I told them how our three hens did not fully meet the egg needs of my family of four, and how we’d also like to be able to keep goats for milk & cheese. I referenced the Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association to demonstrate a growing movement of people enjoying the benefits of keeping backyard chickens. The Committee was quite receptive, and decided to add this topic to their list of priority areas. A working group was created to study the matter in-depth and propose recommendations.

I encourage any/all of you living in Northampton to chime in on this revision process because the ZRC will ultimately need strong citizen backing to get this through. Do you have research or wisdom you can share on the matter? Would you merely like to express your opinion? Here’s a person to contact on the Committee: Adin Maynard: Also, if you want, please email me with any thoughts or questions.

2 Comments on “Northampton Zoning Changes for Sustainability?

  1. Lilly writes: Northampton’s ZRC meeting on the (July) 15th, details below. On their agenda: urban agriculture (allowable hens & goats, humanure systems, etc).

  2. Thanks so much for presenting those critical points to the committee. Hopefully you made a difference!

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