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Alternative Dispute Resolution

‘Stealth Coop’ Can Smooth Neighbors’ Ruffled Feathers Over Backyard Chickens

Posted Jun 15, 2009 3:53 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although some neighbors are squawking about a potential farm nuisance in an urban area, backyard chickens are a growing trend in cities throughout the country. Among those now struggling with the issue are officials in New Haven, Conn., who held a contentious public hearing on the issue this month, reports the Los Angeles Times.

While a few hens might not pose a significant problem, critics fear that backyard chicken coops—or related farming efforts, such as beekeeping and miniature goat herds—could get out of hand. Because of such concerns, recent pro-backyard chicken lobbying efforts in the village of Caledonia, Wis., went down to defeat, the newspaper reports.

Even when a municipality may not permit backyard hens, however, urban residents apparently are finding a way to appease neighbors, at best, or evade the long arm of the law, at worst. One way of doing so is the so-called stealth chicken coop.

To make his family's chicken, Fluffy, more palatable to a neighbor, Dennis Harrison-Noonan, who works in Madison, Wis., as a handyman, constructed a 4-by-8 coop that looks like a child's playhouse, the newspaper reports. It even has a window box planted with petunias.

Urged by a friend to offer blueprints for the nontraditional henhouse online, he says he sold 1,000 within the past year at $35 each. "I thought I might sell 10, 20 max," he tells the Times.

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "‘Sexy’ Seattle Pet: Backyard Chicken"

ABAJournal.com: "Towns Abuzz Over Backyard Bees"

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