Something is foul in the village of Altamont: Why overregulate chickens when we don’t regulate developers nearly enough?

I read, with some interest, that the idea of allowing folks in our little village to keep chickens has been brought back from the dead [“Altamont considers allowing hens,” The Altamont Enterprise, Sept. 7, 2023]. However, I was struck by the level of regulation these innocent fowl will have to live under.

It appears that you can keep no more than six hens for noncommercial use (professional chickens such as chicken accountants, chicken doctors, and chicken mechanics are prohibited). Your yard has to be at least .23 acres in size and you’d have to get a permit every single year, put up with inspections by the building department, and no roosters are allowed. No conjugal visits whatsoever, so chances are we’re going to have some lovelorn hens in our midst.

Finally, there are a bunch of other rules on the size of the run, location, setback, views, and so on. All in all, chickens in Altamont will be very, very regulated.

Meanwhile, we don’t regulate developers nearly enough. At this moment, we’re issuing variances left and right for proposed developments in the village and town of Guilderland. What gives? I mean we’re going to regulate chickens up to, and including their sex lives, but land developers pretty much can do whatever they want? Something’s amiss here, folks.

Chickens produce high quality protein in the form of eggs, make very nice pets, I’m told, and even go so far as to eat ticks, reducing a serious health hazard that climate change and non-stop development has caused.

Currently, according to the state’s Department of Health, we have ticks in our midst that transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus (POW), and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (tick-borne typhus fever). None of these are diseases you want and neither do your kids, pets, neighbors, and anyone else with a pulse. To their benefit, and ours, chickens can eat up to 80 ticks per hour.

And developers? They are ticks. By allowing developers to destroy every square inch of greenspace in our midst, we’re screwing up the environment and putting wildlife, like deer that carry ticks, into our backyards. I’ve seen deer all over the village, in yards, nibbling shrubs, wandering up streets, and why is that? Because there are now houses where once there were woods. Imagine that. And let’s not even get into the increasing bear sightings.

Every time we allow a developer to run full tilt through our green space and leave destruction, cheap construction, and environmental damage in their wake, we’re allowing the ticks even more access to our tender bodies. It’s almost as if developers are themselves, a form of human tick. 

They lurk around and attach themselves to our villages, towns, and counties, sucking out the lifeblood in pursuit of fast profits. In so doing, they infect and sicken their hosts, reducing the quality of life and leaving the damaged and diminished bodies for all the residents to contend with.

Higher taxes, bigger water bills, more stress on the wells, more wildlife in the yard, and more ticks all thanks to our human ticks. Why don’t chickens eat developers too? Seriously, I wouldn’t want to sicken an innocent chicken. So could we at least stick to our zoning rules when it comes to development?

And just so it doesn’t sound like I’m ranting in the wilderness, we now have on the table a proposal for an industrial storage facility right next to the Watervliet Reservoir in Guilderland. Seriously? Does the phrase “poisoned water supply” only pop up in my mind? 

These human ticks want to locate so close to the water that all they need is one oil leak or faulty gas tank on a truck and you’ll be able to light your drinking water. At the very least, the fact that the zoning and planning committees are even listening to this environmentally suicidal proposal tells you all you need to know about what really matters in Builderland. Money.

Folks, if we’re going to regulate chickens but allow human ticks to destroy our environment for money, then maybe we’re regulating the wrong things. Of course, a radioactive leak that causes chickens to grow to 60 feet in height might just change the calculus a bit.

Michael Seinberg concedes he has been watching too many science fiction movies and attending too many protest rallies; the two finally collided.