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Cities and towns around the country have started allowing chickens and other agricultural activities in residential areas.<br />Photo: Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11921146@N03/">Rachel Tayse</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
Cities and towns around the country have started allowing chickens and other agricultural activities in residential areas.
Photo: Photo: Rachel Tayse, CC some rights reserved

Canton moves toward chickens, vegetable farms

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The town of Canton is moving forward with zoning changes that would allow chickens and community gardens in residential areas. The Town Council decided Monday to draft two separate rules, one governing animals, and one for vegetable gardens.

Canton supervisor David Button says allowing chickens presents unique issues, so the town wants to address those specifically.

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Julie Grant
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"We think there need to be better protections related to the possibility of birds in the neighbors' next door yards, than there do for community gardens. So we did separate them, but we do plan to track them at the same time."

Button says residents who want to raise chickens will have to get approval from their contiguous neighbors and a special permit from the town. Roosters would not be allowed.

Button says Canton supports agriculture, and wants to allow it. But it must also protect those who might not want it.

"People who purchased in the residential area through the years, with the expectation that they wouldn't look out and find animals, now want some guarantee and some protection that their neighbors will not disturb what their sense of neighborhood looks like."

The zoning changes were initiated by a farm called Little Grasse Foodworks on Miner Street that runs a Community Supported Agriculture program. Technically, Little Grasse has been breaking the law, because it's in the residential zone, and vegetable farms are not permitted.

In an email to NCPR last night, co-owner Bob Washo says they are very nervous, because re-zoning is a long process, and the clock is ticking on the next growing season.

The Council has asked the town attorney to present draft laws at the board's March 12 meeting.

A public hearing will need to be held before zoning changes can be finalized.

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