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Locals Urge Ossining to Allow Chickens, Bees

OSSINING, N.Y. – It may take a few weeks or even a year, but Maureen Morgan is convinced the Village of Ossining is going to pass legislation to allow residents to keep chickens.

The Ossining resident and long-time community advocate said she’s not going to work with each member of the village board of trustees and the members of the village’s appointed subcommittee, made up entirely of village officials. The board held a public hearing during a March work session addressing various safety and health concerns in allowing residents to keep chickens and bees in their homes.

Morgan, a member of Transition Ossining and the Green Ossining Committee, said she and a few community advocates are going to “make sure the village says yes” to allowing residents to keep chickens and become beekeepers.

“I never go into fighting for something if I think I have a good chance of losing,” Morgan said Friday. “Allowing chickens should be a no-brainer. Bees might be another issue. But I know they have concerns and I think once they learn a little more about it, they’re going to pass it.”

Westchester communities, including New Rochelle, recently considered passing legislation that would allow residents to raise chickens in their homes. The New Rochelle council ultimately voted against an amendment that would have allowed households to hold no more than six birds.

Village of Ossining Deputy Mayor John Codman, who’s set to serve on the village's subcommittee, previously said his biggest concern with changing the code would be enforcement.

“Enforcement is a critical issue here and it’s something that could take time away from other things,” Codman said in March. “This is a balancing act we’re going to have to do to see if this is something we can afford to do. As much as we’d like to be the stewards, we have to make sure we can afford to do it.”

Morgan said she knows enforcement is going to be a concern, noting that she’s going to focus on answering those concerns.

“I think any time something goes in front of government that they haven’t done before, that’s always going to be an issue,” Morgan said. “But it’s a non-issue. Neighbors will police themselves and the people that are going to want to do this are going to be OK with paying for permits that should take care of that.”

Morgan said she decided to take up the cause after hearing from several residents who are interested in keeping chickens and listening to their fears about the legislation passing.

“These things are almost always going to head into a bureaucratic maze and not make it out without someone following through,” she said. “People are afraid about where things are going in the world right now and they want to do something fun and healthy and simple and they’re afraid that’s going to get some resistance.”

Village of Ossining Mayor William Hanauer reiterated Friday that he’s not opposed to passing legislation on allowing either chickens or bees, but wants to make sure all concerns are met first.

“It needs to be studied a lot more,” Hanauer said. “There are a lot of issues that our subcommittee is going to look at. And they’re going to look at all of them before bringing it back so it might take some time.”

Hanauer added that he wasn’t aware of any meetings or discussions from the subcommittee that includes Trustee Marlene Cheatham and Corporation Counsel Lori Lee Dickson. Members of the subcommittee could not be immediately reached for comment.

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