Rooster ban amended, put on hold

Posted 10/27/21

By DANIEL KITTREDGE A proposed prohibition on the keeping of roosters in non-agricultural areas of the city has been put on hold - for now. By a 5-4 vote, the City Council on Monday approved Citywide Councilwoman Jessica Marino's amendment to Citywide

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Rooster ban amended, put on hold


A proposed prohibition on the keeping of roosters in non-agricultural areas of the city has been put on hold – for now.

By a 5-4 vote, the City Council on Monday approved Citywide Councilwoman Jessica Marino’s amendment to Citywide Councilwoman Nicole Renzulli’s proposed rooster ordinance – a move that, based on the advice of legal counsel, prompted a second vote by the same margin to refer the measure back to the Ordinance Committee for new consideration.

The rooster ban – which was submitted under the title “Roosters Prohibited” – had already been successfully amended at the committee level to explicitly exempt property owners who have formal agricultural plans filed with the state’s Department of Environmental Management.

Marino’s amendment takes that exemption a step further, creating an allowance for a single rooster to be kept on any property in the city’s A-80 residential zone – which includes lots of at least two acres – provided that the bird is kept in a coop located at least 150 feet from the nearest property line. The amendment also requires the rooster coop be at least 200 feet from the nearest home.

Marino said as a resident of Ward 4 who lives near farmers who keep roosters, she felt the blanket ban on the birds “would greatly negatively impact” some residents of Western Cranston.

“What we all agree on is that roosters do not belong in an urban setting. I’m pretty confident we would have consensus on that front,” she said in presenting the amendment, adding: “Cranston is a beautiful mix of rural and urban, and to put forth an ordinance as simplistic as this, to just have a whole ban, I think doesn’t serve our city well, doesn’t serve our residents well.”

The vote in favor of the amendment saw Marino joined by Ward 1 Councilwoman Lammis Vargas, Ward 2 Councilwoman Aniece Germain, Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan and Citywide Councilman Robert Ferri in the majority. Renzulli was joined by Council President Chris Paplauskas, Ward 4 Councilman Richard Campopiano and Ward 6 Councilman Matthew Reilly in opposition.

After Marino’s amendment was introduced, Paplauskas suggested its passage would constitute a “substantive” change to the proposed rooster ban. Stephen Angell, the council’s legal adviser, concurred with that interpretation and advised the measure be referred back to the Ordinance Committee for a new hearing. The committee had forwarded the measure to the full council with a positive recommendation earlier this month on a 5-1 vote.

Opponents of Marino’s amendment questioned the need for the new language, arguing that for a number of residents – some who have testified during public hearings – the presence of roosters in neighborhoods has been a longtime nuisance that disrupts quality of life.

“This is a problem. And we may not be able to solve all the problems with chickens tonight, but we can solve this problem tonight with this ordinance,” Renzulli said, urging passage of the ordinance as originally presented “so these people who can’t sleep and have been going through this for years can get some peace and quiet on their own property.”

Reilly called the rooster ban a “straightforward” ordinance, contrasting it with other “watered down” rules with caveats and exceptions currently on the city’s books.

“[Roosters] don’t belong in residential settings, in my opinion … If you want one, then have a farm. Otherwise, it’s a novelty,” he said, adding: “I think we’ve heard from enough people who’ve been bothered … This isn’t the chicken ordinance. This is just roosters. They are completely different in my mind.”

Campopiano echoed Renzulli and Reilly, saying: “I have received several calls from my constituents, and the harassment has to stop.”

Paplauskas said he fears Marino’s amendment would have unintended consequences.

“I really think it creates a rooster loophole … to allow the nuisance to continue to happen,” he said.

Other council members, however, continued to advocate for the rooster issue being addressed as part of a broader, more comprehensive chicken ordinance, similar to one passed by the council nearly a decade ago but vetoed by then-Mayor Allan Fung. Renzulli last month had introduced a separate ordinance creating new rules for the keeping of chicken hens, but she withdrew it during the Ordinance Committee’s meeting this month to provide time for adjustments to its language.

Ferri said while he has “personally … never gotten a phone call from anyone who’s had a problem with a rooster,” he can “absolutely sympathize with the people who have testified” before the council on the issue. He added, however, that he feared approving the rooster ban as presented would negatively affect some homeowners who have larger properties and engage in agriculture.

“I think we’re rushing into this and not making the right decision,” he said, voicing his support for a comprehensive chicken ordinance.

“I, too, think that this is being rushed a little bit … I still think that roosters, chickens, hens should all be handled in one ordinance,” Donegan said.

Vargas said while Marino’s amendment “doesn’t solve everyone’s problem,” she would support it.

“We all agree that roosters do not belong in an urban setting … But at the same time, we have to be mindful for other people who have the capacity [to keep them],” Germain said.

She added: “Frankly, one size cannot fit all.”

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