Open your minds and hearts to accept chickens

To the Editor:

For the first time in several weeks, I am in disagreement with Dale Owen when he predicted in last week's Altamont Enterprise, if he were to guess, it would be that his request for pet hens would be denied by the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals. The fact is, the overwhelming evidence provided by him and supporters of his application for pet hens should have easily carried the day.

After all, this same information and supporting documentation has convinced literally hundreds of municipalities — villages, cities, and towns across the United States and Canada to approve backyard pet hen ownership. Unfortunately, because of the absence of a member of the ZBA and the recusal of the chairman who lives in the neighborhood, all three members present at the meeting were needed for approval, the same level of certainty as in a trial for murder.

Two members voted in the affirmative and one in the negative. So the application failed despite a majority of the ZBA [members present being] in support of the application.

Certainly, the member who voted "no" has every right to do so. My concern is that she provided no explanation for her vote.

After many years of following town committee and board meetings, I, for one, have appreciated — and I'm sure other residents have, too — when voting members provide reasons why they voted the way they did. This is particularly helpful when done by those who cast the minority vote.

It's even reprehensible not to do so in this case in that during several hours of hearings by the ZBA over two months, not once did this member ask a question, express a concern, seek a clarification on any part of the application. If she had issues, perhaps they could have been clarified.

And, just as important, Mr. Owen and supporters of his application out of just plain decency are entitled to this feedback after they devoted many hours of preparation. Her "no" vote without explanation is, in my opinion, the kind of government that none of us desire in Guilderland or elsewhere for that matter.

It's most unfortunate that the neighbors were ill advised by a few who were misinformed or misunderstand the nature of pet hens. I hope they have listened to Mr. Owen and others including me who had maintained pet hens for many years in New York City and Long Island speak and clarify the many issues.  

Nor are the neighbors dealing with an unknown entity. The Owens moved to Mohawk Drive over three years ago to raise their family. You know them. They are your neighbors.

While driving by their home, I have noticed that their property is continually under improvement, most recently with a small decorative berm in front, flowerbeds to the side, and many plantings. The family has earned your trust and respect and appreciation for these and the potential of future opportunities that they can bring to enhance your neighborhood, making it an even better place to live, to learn, and to raise a family.

If only you would open your minds and hearts, and your imagination and accept this wonderful opportunity. You will all be the richer if you do.

Gerard Houser

More Letters to the Editor