Residents debate pros and cons of rooster ordinance
MADAWASKA, Maine — Britney Patterson said she is only trying to raise chickens and roosters for their eggs and meat, and also as a way to teach her children about self-reliance and the natural world. Some residents, however, expressed frustration at a public hearing on Feb. 28 about what they say is excessive rooster noise.
Selectmen convened the hearing to solicit feedback on a proposed “male fowl” ordinance that attempts to address the noise issue. Madawaska does not currently have such an ordinance on its books.
The proposed ordinance prohibits “roosters, peacocks and other male fowls known for their loud call” from the more populated portions of town, as well as from commercial and industrial zones.
“I did not get my birds to anger people,” Patterson told the crowd of more than 50 residents who attended the hearing at the Madawaska Middle /High School library.
“We have enough noise on Main Street,” said Denise Thibeault. “We don’t need more from animals. It disrupts your life. You can’t find peace on your property.”
Complaints about noisy roosters during the last two years had prompted the planning board to address the issue and craft the proposed ordinance. Existing ordinances allow for chicken coops in some urban areas, but do not specifically address roosters, according to Madawaska code enforcement officer Andrew Dube.
The proposed ordinance would apply to “high density and medium density” zones, and to “commercial and industrial” zones. High and medium density areas, unlike low density or agricultural areas where some people live, encompass the entire urban area of Madawaska. Low density areas where roosters would be allowed under the new ordinance, for example, would be similar to upper 11th Avenue, above the Skylite Drive-In, according to Dube.
Madawaska resident Dan Daigle asked why the selectmen and the planning board were wasting their time on this issue when he contends there are more serious and actual code violations.
“Are we going to become the laughing stock of the state again,” Daigle asked.
Patterson, who resides on Main Street near Pete’s Car Wash, commented that she keeps her roosters inside their coop until after 8 a.m. and brings them in at night.
“They are loud,” Thibeault commented. “I am thinking of people who may be sick, may be old.”
Patterson told the audience that a rooster is no louder than a dog, and not as loud as the trains, garbage trucks or motorcycles that pass through Madawaska neighborhoods.
Police Chief Ross Dubois said Monday that police logs show no calls to the department regarding chicken or rooster noise complaints at Patterson’s property.
Some residents attending the hearing supported Patterson, including people who live near her and said the rooster crows do not bother them. Others, however, commented with vehemence that rooster noise is very disruptive and added that they would take matters into their own hands if a noisy bird moved in next to them.
Robert Lausier, who lives next to Patterson, said he has heard her birds from inside his home, including in the early morning hours.
“We are in town. We’re supposed to be able to sleep in the morning,” Lausier said.
Lausier also expressed concern that roosters located near a school would disrupt the students’ learning.
Patterson asked why everyday sounds, including traffic, garbage trucks and equipment from the nearby Twin Rivers Paper Company mill are acceptable, but occasional noise from her roosters are not.
“We have to to think of our property values as well,” Thibeualt said.
Although prospective buyers looking at homes in a mixed residential / commercial area will know if a garage or paper mill are located nearby, they are unlikely to know the details about neighbors’ pets and hobbies, she said.
“People who buy my property will not expect rosters next door,” Thibeault added.
Patterson countered that studies have shown that having chickens nearby does not decrease property values.
No vote was taken during the public hearing. Residents may vote on the proposed
male fowl noise ordinance, as well amendments to the sex offender ordinance and a moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses during a special town meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m., March 12, at the high school cafeteria.