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Ossining Committee Visits Chicken, Bee Sites

OSSINING, N.Y. – It may be a while before Village of Ossining residents are allowed to keep bees and chickens, but village officials say they are taking active steps to consider the possibility.

A village subcommittee visited sites last week where bees and chickens are kept, and members say they plan to visit more sites next week in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. The Board of Trustees held a public hearing during a March work session addressing various safety and health concerns in allowing residents to keep chickens and bees at their homes. Deputy Mayor John Codman, who is on the village's subcommittee, said he remains open to the idea.

“As much as I’m for the idea of people having chickens and bees, we also don’t want to create a potential public health hazard or nuisance,” Codman said Thursday. “There are many varying opinions about it, but this is part of the due diligence we really have to do to make sure that if we do adopt a policy that it’s enforceable and respects the neighbors and the rest of the community.”

Codman said he sees a real need for people to be able to raise their own chickens and keep bees.

“I know it’s obviously nice for people to have fresh eggs, but from an agricultural perspective, if we don’t have bees things don’t get pollinated and we don’t have fruits and vegetables,” he said. “So that is a very big concern and I think it’s definitely something to think about.”

Westchester communities, including New Rochelle, recently considered legislation that would allow residents to raise chickens at their homes. The New Rochelle City Council ultimately voted against a proposal that would have allowed households to have no more than six birds.

Lori Lee Dickson, a subcommittee member and corporation counsel for the board, said it is important for the village to look at each site closely when considering a new law in Ossining.

“We’re undertaking further review of other local legislation and we’re getting involved with site visits to places equivalent to those in Ossining,” Dickson said. “It’s important that when we consider a law here that we have an apples-to-apples comparison. We are not looking at larger parks or commercial operations. We’re looking only at high-density areas that are similar to Ossining.”

Dickson said it would be difficult to estimate when the issue would come back in front of the Board of Trustees.

“It will definitely come back for a work session, and the public will have the opportunity to comment on it then,” she said. “There will be plenty of opportunity for the board to hear more from the public when it comes back.”

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