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Alfieri Fighting for Residents to Raise Chickens

Alfieri says there are other good things that come out of chickens for people besides eggs.

A Wayne resident is fighting to make raising chickens more common in town.

Victor Alfieri has been trying to change a law in town for two years that prohibits most residents from raising chickens, specifically hens, on their property.

Town law states that up to 25 chickens can be kept on lots 2 acres or larger in area. The animals’ dwelling must be kept at least 20 feet away from the owner’s home on the property, less than 50 feet from the side and rear boundaries of the property, and 200 feet from the front property line.

“The myths have to be debunked,” Alfieri said. “People associate chickens with farms and having a lot of them in a small area and that’s not what I want. Most of the people who complain about chickens have never owned them. The only thing they know about chickens is what they see on television.”

Alfieri wants people to be able to have up to five hens on their property, in a separate area where they are not roaming free. He has proposed changing the law and the council has considered it twice, including once late last year, but the matter was tabled. The ordinance must be reintroduced if the law is to be amended. A subcommittee of four council members was created to review legislation that applies to the township’s zoning laws.

Councilman Alan Purcell, a member of the committee, said he is not in favor of the legislation in its first iteration because there is no way to police how many hens someone could have and the township has a small number of animal control officers.

“We want to be a council that embraces things like this,” Purcell said, “but we’re trying to find some balance. We’re trying to introduce an ordinance that works for everybody.”

Alfieri has three chickens living in his backyard. They live in a penned-off area and shed in the back of his yard away from his house. He’s had them for about four years now. Each one produces about 300 eggs a year. He said his neighbors never complain about them.

“Eggs from hens raised in backyards have more Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and Omega Three fatty acids,” Alfieri said.  “Eggs sold in the supermarket can be labeled ‘fresh’ up to 45 days after they’ve been laid. Who wants to eat food that’s 45 days old?”

Hens are relatively inexpensive to care for, Alfieri said. Chicken feed is affordably priced and hens can cost between $1.50 and about $12 to $15, depending on if they are un-hatched eggs that have be incubated or as chicks. Hens can start laying eggs when they are between 16 and 18 weeks old.

Contrary to what people might think of hens, they are not dirty, loud, or annoying animals; hey only make noises that are about 60 decibels loud, Alfieri said, or about the same amount of noise as two people having a normal conversation do.

Alfieri said owning hens is a crucial step in the home sustainability movement.

“The minute you start raising hens, you reduce your carbon footprint,” Alfieri said. “Hens pay for themselves. It’s less money you spend on eggs and less waste in the environment.”

Alfieri is hardly alone in his ownership of hens. Residents in and have hens in their backyards.

Green Thumb

Alfieri doesn’t let anything go to waste. He uses eggshells and chicken manure to help fertilize the many small gardens he has on his property. Each area is dedicated to a different kind of food.

He has a garden just for melons and harvests between two and three pounds of strawberries annually from a small garden in his front yard. He grows hundreds of pounds of peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, and onions and about 150 pounds of sweet potatoes each year. When Alfieri wants fresh rosemary, thyme, or other spices, they simply go out to the front yard and pick them. He even has a small area for worms, which he takes and places into each garden. They eat the eggshells and other organic material, enriching the soil with their waste.

Alfieri has also planted an apple tree and installed mesh so plants that grow vertically, like grape vines and sugar snap peas, have a place in his backyard.

Alfieri has made a career out of his efforts and researching the sustainability movement. He is teaching a class on square-foot gardening at the and has been contacted by local environmental commissions to speak about sustainability and gardening.

Sustainability

“Sustainability and raising hens go hand-in-hand,” said Alfieri, who has also been trying to install a 30-inch tall wind turbine on his roof, but has been denied by the town.

“I could put up five satellite dishes up on my roof and no one would say a thing,” he said.

Some officials, including Councilman Al Sadowski, have praised Alfieri’s efforts.

“When you start, both individuals and as a community, embracing sustainability, this is what you can do,” Sadowski said. “But everything needs to be in balance. There needs to be safeguards in place to ensure people don’t go too far with it. As a concept, I think sustainability is something we should all strive for.”

Justice February 07, 2012 at 05:46 PM
@Scondo, the Dead Man is a World War II Veteran. The VA should have been contacted. The town knows he was a veteran because veterans receive a $250.00 deduction off their property taxes. The veteran provides their DD214 as proof of honorable discharge and the town thereafter charges the veterans $250.00 less. The same applies for seniors and disabled. However, only ONE deduction can apply per property. Whoever the inspector was in this case, there was absolutely no compassion shown, no homework done, nothing. I am certain Father Dan would be very proud of this inspector (I am being sarcastic).
Scondo February 07, 2012 at 08:32 PM
@Justice, It did not make sense and it can easily be rectified. I have had elderly neighbors over the years and we always made it a point to see that the lights went on and off, the paper was picked up, the mail was taken in, and I could do that from my driveway without being intrusive, all it took was being observant. @Rob, I did not see the actual decision, I saw the article in Star Ledger on Line version. One thing tilting this away from the official version is the idea that the Wayne Energy Corp, may have included insiders to the campaigns of politicians and I wonder if it was set up for a patronage reason. I am not saying it way, but the recent article caused me to wonder about it. Judge Feinberg went to war with Christie, so you know that she would wage war on his minions.
Rob Burke February 07, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Couple things. Whether Wayne Energy was intended to be used as a patronage mill will never be known to us, since it will never come to fruition. Regarding Judge Feinberg and the notion that her decision was motivated by politics, you are losing sight of the fact that the defendant (the Joint Ethics Committee and its Chairman, Alan Rosenthal) are folks that you would expect her to be biased in favor of protecting, which in turn would have worked to Rumana's benefit.
Jeffrey DelVecchio February 07, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Victor, I was happy to read your story today. I am currently trying to do the same thing here in New Milford, NJ. You can check out my blog on the New Milford Patch website or my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/New.Milford.Sustainability Good luck, Jeff
Victor Alfieri February 07, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Jeff I can help you. If you need help......call me. http://www.woodlotfarms.com/Legalize_Chicken_Hens.html
Sydney February 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Are you kidding? In Wayne they want permits for EVERYTHING so they can charge a FEE and make more money besides the taxes that we pay.. And our property is never truly our property as long as we have to pay taxes on it. See how long you own it if you decide to stop paying taxes. Hey I never said a word when my neighbor took down all his trees around his pool, but I must say I did get a chuckle when the first big rainstorm caused all the dirt from the treeless hill to mess up his pool. And when the same neighbor planted a line of trees partly on my property I never said a word.
Frankie McKormick February 08, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Does anyone have a good Chicken Parm recipe ?
Scondo February 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Positanos
Sydney February 08, 2012 at 10:01 PM
As stated on the Wayne town website: "A permit is required for the removal of trees under the following situations: a. Removal of more than four (4) trees which are eight (8) inches or greater in diameter, but less than eighteen (18) inches in diameter, within the twelve (12) month period following the issuance of a permit from the Department of Parks and Recreation. b. The removal of a single tree which is eighteen (18) inches or greater in diameter. The removal of trees less than 8” in diameter does not require a Tree Removal Permit." "Please understand that a municipal summons will be issued to those persons or commercial lanscapers/tree service providers found to be in violation of the township code Chapter #106 AND/OR Chapter #129."
sincerely disturbed March 15, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Why should Pandie have to move when she was here first? He's the one who is causing all of these problems. Sydney, why don't you look up what chickens are really about. Then maybe you'll realize how Mr Alfieri is only giving half of the truth that people want to hear and not the negative side of things.
Resident Kelly March 15, 2012 at 04:56 PM
@ Sincerely Disturbed...Yes you are sincerely disturbed. From what I understand she has a 50 lb dog who produces way more waste than 3 hens. Also, is more dangerous than a hen. And who says there are any problems? You? This is not a problem. This is a positive thing. Hens offer many health benefits and sustainability. Keep eating those anti-biotic, steroid pumped, stale old supermarket eggs. Knock yourself out! I am all for Alfieri and this amazing fight to help all Wayne residents eat fresh, healthy and organic. Keep fighting!
sincerely disturbed March 15, 2012 at 05:22 PM
So you're going to sit here and tell me, 3 chickens, a dog and 3 cats generates LESS waste then a 50 pound dog? I think you should think again.
Resident Kelly March 15, 2012 at 05:26 PM
That's right! Chicken waste is full of nitrogen so you can make compost which equals no waste and cats use a liter box.
Rob Burke March 15, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I'm all for chickens if they are managed responsibly, Licensing and inspection can easily address those concerns. The only health risk I've read about is salmonella -- which is the same risk as keeping turtles or lizards as pets. Wash your hands, don't clean coop related materials in your kitchen sink, don't let the chickens run around inside your house. Use some basic common sense and you'll be fine. And don't forget, if your neighbor has a chicken and you don't interact with said chicken, you CANNOT get salmonella from it.
sincerely disturbed March 15, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Kelly why don't you ask Mr Alfieri where he keeps his cats? His answer will be outside. Roaming other peoples' properties. Dumping their waste in other peoples lawns. NOT a liter box. And how do you know in 20 years from now that people won't get sick from this chicken manure?
Victor Alfieri March 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM
sincerely disturbed I have read some funny ridiculous things regarding the chicken hen issue but this following statement has to be one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard. “And how do you know in 20 years from now that people won't get sick from this chicken manure?" There are more chickens in this country then there are people on the entire planet. Chickens have been around since 2500 BC. There are chicken farms 50 miles from here that raise 200,000 chickens in one warehouse. Who ever you are I suggest you stop worrying about what I’m doing and go pick up a book, it's a rectangle thing with words in it, the library is free. Stop focusing on me and go learn something.
Jeffrey DelVecchio March 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Please enlighten us.
Diane Hummel March 15, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Mr. Alfieri, I am suprised that someone with your knowledge would attack someone with such sarcasm. Remember, you are the one that is causing this argument in the first place. Everyone who is supporting you is merely your follower - you are the "town leader" of this cause. We all have the right to state an opinion or a concern, without having to deal with you basically saying that we are uneducated. Laws were created for a reason, and I think that they should stay in place. I have been in your neighborhood, and heard your fowl - I would not want to live next to that - but that is my OPINION, and I have every right to speak it. As far as the animal control division having the right to inspect your property whenever they want - if the ordinance does get changed, I do not think that we have enough animal control officers in Wayne to be able to handle that. I had an issue in my neighborhood with a vicious dog, and it took 10 calls to animal control before anyone had the time to go and address the issue. So that is something that needs to be considered before the changing of the ordinance. If you are going to debate about an issue, do it with dignity - not sarcasm. We are all adults here, correct?
Wayne's World March 15, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I find the dedication to the chicken issue odd on Mr. Alfieri's part. Seems like a really strange thing to crusade about in a city. Although I am for private property rights, those obviously have a limit for public safety, aesthetic and other reasons. Mr. Alfieri's neighbors probably object because they didn't buy into suburbia to live side by side with wild animals in a quasi-farm setting. To equate wild animals with domesticated pets based on how much poop they generate or how loud they are is a fallacious argument. I like fresh eggs as much as the next guy, and I applaud environmental efforts. However, I'd be pretty pissed if my neighbor was affecting my property value with farm animals running around; regardless of whether it is an uneducated perception, people associate these animals with noise, uncleanliness and generally aesthetic nuisance. The issue could easily be alleviated by Mr. Alfieri moving to a more farm-friendly area, like Wayne used to be before it turned into a city. Mr. Alfieri, clearly if your neighbors are so upset with you it's not due to a lack of education about chickens - it's because it affects the quiet enjoyment and aesthetic value of their properties one way or another.
Diane Hummel March 15, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I agree with Wayne's World in the fact that a majority of the concerns seem to be that we - meaning the people of Wayne - did not buy homes here necessarily to have farming going on adjacent to our property. We all pay taxes, and from what I hear from most of the people on this blog, they are very upset with the township ordinances. If I was that upset, and wanted something different, I would move to an area that was more conducive to what my desires were. That may be a good idea for some of the people constantly berating the township. I work very hard, and am very proud to live in Wayne, and I abide by the rules of the township.
Wayne's World March 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Please don't misunderstand me, Concerned, over-regulation at the municipal level is of epic proportions. Take a look at the town ordinances sometime. It is thousands and thousands of pages of regulation on things important and mundane. Much of it is a moneymaking scheme. It is a tremendous drain on individual and business resources. I don't totally agree with go along or get along type mentality just because town elders needed to enact some more legislation. My point is more that Mr. Alfieri's passion seems to be disturbing people who live close to him in a number of ways. At some point, living in such close proximity imposes certain realities. I lament how much Wayne's character has changed from when I was a boy and wish there was more preserved open space and farmland. But that horse rode long ago and in the totality of the circumstances, it is more of an encroachment on liberty and property rights of those affected than it is on the person who wants to do what they want to do, in this case, Mr. Alfieri. I applaud Mr. Burke's crusade on some level to pursue environmental responsibility, but I disagree that he can just do whatever he wishes with his property just because he owns it. That goes for all of us. Everything we do with our property affects those around us, therefore, certain zoning and building standards have to be in place for the safe, quiet enjoyment for all. We may disagree on the standards, but shouldn't disagree on the need presented.
Rob Burke March 15, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Waynes World -- Thanks for your applause, but your facts regarding my situation appear incomplete. My application for a FULLY CONFORMING MINOR SITE PLAN was exactly that -- fully conforming with all of the Town's ordinances. That's what the top judge in Passaic County decided in June 2010, in a written opinion. He noted that he did not find the Planning Board's concerns about noise and safety to be genuine, since the Town approved its own wind turbine earlier, to be placed atop Wayne Hills High School. I complied with the law. The Town broke the law. Most people who responded so far to a poll that I published believe that the Planning Board's more recent approval of my wind turbine was as a result of angry taxpayers who don't want the Town to waste even more of our tax dollars fighting over something they already lost in court. More interestingly, the Planning Board demanded that I produce experts because they needed more information and since I didn't, they rejected my application. That's what they claimed. Well, one wonders how they suddenly became experts when they approved my application last November, since I never acquiesced to their demands.
Diane Hummel March 16, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Wayne's World - I absolutely agree with you, some of the regulations are just plain money making for the town. It is just refreshing to see that someone else has the values here to consider their neighbors, being as we all live so close to one another.
Adrian vB March 16, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Dear Victor, I recently moved to Essex Fells from Europe. I asked the local zoning if having two female chickens would be allowed to have in a proper coop and they have replied 'No". Do you know by any chance if this is the case or if this was an unsupported answer? Anything you would recommend to find out more if it is allowed? I am new to the US so any help where to ask the right questions would help. Thank you very much Best regards Adrian
Victor Alfieri March 16, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Adrian vB I would be happy to help in any way I can please visit my website and shoot me and e-mail. We will get the ball rolling in Essex Fells. http://www.woodlotfarms.com/Legalize_Chicken_Hens.html
Kevin G April 26, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Haha! I remember that! I was around 10 years old, I look out in my backyard and I said to my mother "Umm.. there's a bunch of chickens in the yard..."
Kevin G April 26, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Good luck, Victor! I just learned about the Community Garden Project in Wayne and I must say it sounds pretty awesome.
Victor Alfieri April 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thank you NEXT MEETING: Friday, April 27th at 6pm at the Van-Riper Hopper House
Brian King November 28, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I fell apone this problem in Hamptin Twp Pa. I am not aloud to own any chickens, pheasant, no animals that are beneficial to my family. We are really forced to buy all our eggs and other food sorce from crummy over priced stores. Im trying to figure out how to fight this. If anyone has anything . klk8282@Yahoo.com. Thanks
Jamievjjayvee@aol.com March 13, 2013 at 12:39 PM
You are right on justice

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