GENEVA — Jeff Henderson claims his egg cooperative on former industrial land on State Street is a success.
Now he thinks it’s time all city residents have the opportunity to own chickens — and the chance for fresh, free-range eggs.
At last month’s City Council meeting, Henderson gave a report on his egg cooperative, which also includes a solar panel operation.
He said the cooperative’s 72 hens laid 11,000 eggs that were distributed to cooperative members who pay a fee — $45 in 2016 — for the right for free-range eggs produced at the site.
Henderson’s project was quite controversial when he first hatched the idea years ago. But after getting approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in April 2015, Henderson claims that “to his knowledge,” there have been no complaints from either the city or neighbors about the operation.
The time has come, he said, for others to be allowed to own hens.
“There are no reasons why .... citizens in Geneva should not be allowed to keep their own hens,” he told Council, where he reiterated his push for revamping city ordinance regarding the keeping of chickens.
On Wednesday, Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera will lead a discussion on revising the city’s ordinance to allow residents to own hens. Right now, the only places where chickens are allowed are in industrial and agricultural zones. Henderson’s egg cooperative was allowed in part because it is on land zoned for industrial use.
Under the amended ordinance up for discussion, hens would be allowed in residential areas under a number of regulations, including no more than one hen for every 1,000 square feet of parcel or lot area. For a standard residential lot of 5,000 square feet, that would mean a limit of five chickens, the proposed changes state.
As for shelters, the chicken coops would need to be at least 10 feet away from side yard property lines and no closer than 18 inches of rear property lines.
No roosters, geese or turkeys would be allowed, and the chicken cages would need to be predator proof and humane — including proper ventilation and of a size allowing free movement for the birds. Under the proposal, each chicken must also have at least 10 feet of outdoor space protected from dogs and other predators.
There are also regulations for non-residentially zoned areas as well under the proposed ordinance changes, which would need to be approved by Council.
Those who own hens would also have to pay a $10 licensing fee every two years, according to the proposal.
The city’s code enforcement office would oversee the program, including providing inspections.
Henderson told Council that the cooperative has proven that hens are “not dangerous; they are not a menace; (and) they are not a health hazard.”
The effort to allow residents to own hens, said Henderson, is “part and parcel with the progressive community Geneva is trying to become. ... It’s not anything different than any of our other progressive neighbors (Canandaigua and Ithaca.)