A Lackawanna resident’s request to raise a half-dozen hens in his backyard didn’t take flight at Monday night’s meeting of the City Council.
The resident, Tracy Shelanskey of Balen Drive, didn’t attend the meeting to press his case for raising chickens, which currently is forbidden by city code.
But backyard hen housing has become popular in some densely populated places, such as Buffalo and North Tonawanda, and other suburbs are considering or have recently adopted special permits to allow the birds.
“I’m not looking to have a poultry farm. I’m just looking to have a few birds,” Shelanskey said in a telephone interview with The Buffalo News. “So many municipalities now are allowing it. Chickens as they are don’t make a lot of noise, and they eat a ton of bugs.”
Shelanskey said he wasn’t able to attend the meeting Monday because he was at home caring for his wife, who is recovering from surgery.
He expects to push the issue with the Council at a subsequent meeting, he said.
Shelanskey said he would keep no more than six chickens in an enclosed, fenced area. He would not have any roosters, nor would he slaughter the hens.
Shelanskey believes he can save money and get better-quality eggs by raising his own chickens. He raised his own chickens 30 years ago while living in Cattauraugus County, he said.
The eggs “taste better to me,” he said. “They’re fresher, and they’re cheaper.”
Council members didn’t weigh in on Shelanskey’s request. When City Council President Henry R. Pirowski asked whether Shelanskey was in attendance and no one responded, City Clerk Jacqueline Caferro cracked that the resident was at home “having chicken dinner.”
Council members voted, 5-0, to receive and file Shelanskey’s hand-written note requesting an amendment to the city code. The request ruffled a few feathers, though.
Some Lackawanna residents showed up at the meeting to peck holes in the idea.
“We’re just here to tell you we don’t want chickens,” Cathy Peluso told the Council. “I don’t want them in my backyard.”
In an interview, Peluso said she worried that people wouldn’t properly care for the birds.
The city, she added, “can’t keep up with the rats, so how are they going to keep up with chickens?”