Chicken owners struggle with rising regulation costs
Current and prospective chicken owners who are struggling to meet stricter animal regulations are finding the new requirements harbor unexpected costs.
When the Board of Health instituted its new regulations for keeping small animals in early December, it included the requirement that permit applicants furnish a certified plot plan for their property — something usually requested for building projects and real estate transactions.
Alexander Melville, whose family has had a flock of chickens since 2017, said he was initially told the cost would only be $200 to $300, but his research has found it to be significantly higher.
He sought quotes from five different surveyors, which provided him figures in the range of $1,500 to $2,500.
“They all laughed at me when I said I wanted a plot plan for a chicken coop,” Melville, 32, said. “‘Really, they want that?’ ‘Yeah, that’s what they’re asking for.'”
He said he doesn’t believe the Board of Health expected the price to be so high when instituting the requirement, and he hopes the board will vote to change the regulation to make it less costly. In a Wednesday letter to the board, Melville offered other options that could provide the same information at little to no cost: an applicant-made map of the property, the town GIS mapping tool, or an accurate mortgage inspection plan.
Melville is among about a dozen Chelmsford chicken owners that received permits despite not having the 40,000 square feet required under town bylaw.