Orono approves zoning for chickens

Posted May 11, 2010, at 10:20 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — It was egg-cellent news for certain residents.

The Town Council voted Monday night to amend town ordinances to allow people who live in areas zoned for medium density residential uses to keep and raise up to six domesticated chickens, a move the council has said is in line with a public interest in locally grown food.

There will be no fees for keeping chickens or for the pens, unless the structure exceeds 200 feet. Roosters are not permitted.

“Cluck,” council Chair Geoff Gordon said after the council voted 6-0.

University of Maine science education instructor and Orono resident Mary Bird, who thanked the council for approving the chicken ordinance, announced there will be a workshop about raising chickens from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at UMaine’s Page Farm and Home Museum. The event is being presented by the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch.

Speakers will be UMaine Cooperative Extension veterinarian emeritus Mike Opitz, UMaine professor emeritus of animal veterinary and aquatic sciences Bob Hawes, and Dr. Laura Leighton.

The council also awarded a contract for asbestos abatement and demolition of part of the Webster Mill site at the intersection of North Main and Penobscot streets. The town, which owns the property, is seeking to develop the site.

The contract will go to County Abatement Inc. of Caribou, which submitted a bid of $58,164 to remove asbestos and demolish the southeast wing of the building. That area is falling down, town officials have said, and needs to be removed to perform soil abatement there.

Funding will come from a $200,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields cleanup grant.

Town planner Evan Richert said work could begin on the site in a month after historical documentation of the southeast wing has been done.

Earlier Monday night, the town took comments from the public about proposed shoreland zoning changes to four sites, including the Webster Mill site.

In each of the cases, the current zoning is for shoreland limited residential use. Richert said this does not reflect the actual use of the properties, which also include the University Inn, located on College Avenue between Park Street and University Place. The other two facilities, which are located on Mill Street, are Byer Manu-facturing, which produces camp furniture and camping equipment, and Shaw & Tenney.

The planning board proposed the site that includes the University Inn be rezoned shoreland general development, and the other three sites be shoreland limited commercial. Shoreland setbacks and restrictions still would apply.

Steve Holt, the owner of Shaw & Tenney, spoke in favor of the change as did Byer owner Jay Shields and University Inn owner Tracy Whitten.

Betsy Beattie, who lives at 94 Mill St. near Byer Manufacturing, said the company has been a good neighbor, but future owners may have other ideas.

“Twenty years from now, what are the limits and what can be done?” she said. “We’re not just talking about today, tomorrow, my lifetime, Jay Shields’ lifetime.”

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