By DANIEL KITTREDGE A proposed ban on roosters outside of the city's designated agricultural spaces has been put on hold again, this time based on legal advice. The City Council's Ordinance Committee on Nov. 9 voted 6-1 to continue consideration of the
A proposed ban on roosters outside of the city’s designated agricultural spaces has been put on hold again, this time based on legal advice.
The City Council’s Ordinance Committee on Nov. 9 voted 6-1 to continue consideration of the ordinance amendment titled “Roosters Prohibited” until its December meeting.
The full City Council had approved an amendment to the measure last month, but sent it back to the committee level for new review based on the legal opinion that the amendment constituted a “substantive” change to the proposal.
At last week’s meeting, Assistant City Solicitor John Verdecchia told council members that in his view, the proposal required additional vetting to address various issues before going to a vote.
“For what on its face seems to be a simple ordinance, it’s anything but. This ordinance raises a lot of legal issues, believe it or not … There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done on this in terms of research,” Verdecchia said.
He added: “I know it’s probably not going to be popular with some of the people here, but you want to get this right. You don’t want this challenged in court. And I think in its present form, I think it would fail.”
The discussion of the issue was relatively brief. It began with Citywide Councilwoman Nicole Renzulli, who introduced the rooster ordinance, proposing an amendment to remove or alter some of the language included in the amendment adopted last month, which had been proposed by Citywide Councilwoman Jessica Marino.
That quickly led to new discussion over how the local ordinance, if adopted, would interact with the provisions of the state’s Right to Farm Act. Also raised was how the measure would affect property owners who have formal agricultural plans filed with the state’s Department of Environmental Management.
A brief recess was then called, after which Verdecchia made his request for a new delay to allow for additional review of the ordinance.
“Whenever attorney Verdecchia speaks, I take his comments seriously,” Council President Chris Paplauskas said, motioning successfully for the matter’s continuance. Citywide Councilman Robert Ferri was the sole “no” vote.
The delay came despite pleas from two residents during public comment for the council to swiftly adopt the rooster ban.
“I am extremely shocked that we’re still here not passing this ordinance … the fact is, this is affecting our lives,” said Bryant Road resident Beth Nawrocki, who has spoken on the issue during other recent meetings.
Nawrocki and others have told council members that roosters living near their homes have affected their quality of life, particularly in terms of disruptive noise during quiet hours.
She added: “Please, do something. I’m begging you.”
Pippin Orchard Road resident Anthony Paolino, also a returning speaker, said the onus for making accommodations should be on any rooster owner, not on neighbors. He said he
“If somebody wants to go through the process of owning a rooster, then they should do whatever the heck they have to do to make sure it doesn’t disturb its neighbors,” he said.
The issue of roosters and chickens creating a nuisance in residential areas of Cranston has garnered renewed attention in recent weeks, leading to council efforts to address it through ordinance.
The council in 2012 approved a comprehensive ordinance governing chickens and roosters in the city, but it was vetoed by former Mayor Allan Fung.
Renzulli in September introduced both the rooster ban and an ordinance titled “Keeping of Chicken Hens,” although the latter was withdrawn prior to a hearing. Renzulli said the chicken ordinance required additional work.
Some community members have called for a comprehensive approach to the issue modeled on the 2012 ordinance. Supporters of the rooster ban, however, have called for more urgent action, citing quality of life issues.
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