Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 5, 2015

NY Appellate Court Affirms Chickens Could Not be Kept in a Home in a Residential District Under the Applicable Zoning Ordinance and they are not an Accessory Use but Rather an Agricultural Use

Petitioner owned a residence in the Village of Champlain, Clinton County where he kept several chickens. Pursuant to the Village of Champlain Zoning Code, petitioner’s home is located in a residential district and, as a result, the Zoning Enforcement Officer for the Village, Michael Tetreault, notified petitioner that he was not allowed to keep chickens at his residence as such use was considered agricultural and not permitted in a residential zoning district. Petitioner appealed to the zoning board seeking an interpretation of the Village Zoning Code and an appeal from Tetreault’s decision. After petitioner’s application was denied and Tetreault’s interpretation was affirmed, he appealed to the court. The trial court dismissed the petition and he appealed again.

The appellate court noted that pursuant to Village of Champlain Zoning Code § 119–20(B), permitted uses in an R1 residential district are “one-and two-family dwellings” and “accessory uses.” The code allowed for accessory uses that are “of a nature customarily incidental and subordinate to the principal use of the structure, such as garages, outbuildings, swimming pools, energy collection devices and the keeping of domesticated animals” Because poultry husbandry was included in the definition of agriculture, Tetreault’s interpretation was neither irrational nor unreasonable. Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s decision was affirmed and the petitioner’s contentions were dismissed.

Meier v Village of Champlain Zoning Board of Appeals, 2015 WL 3767526 (NYAD 3 Dept. 6/18/2015)

The opinion can be accessed at:


  1. I found this case particularly interesting because of the area in which I live as well as the rise in the urban agriculture movement.

    Living in a rural community I find it pretty common having farm animals as pets or raising chickens in a suburban community. This prompted me to look at my own Town zoning code to see if my friends who raise chickens are violating the law. The two points i noticed was the zoning code is silent to farm animals in residential zones and that we have a zoning districts that allow farming as well as agricultural lands.

    I think that this issue will begin to come up more frequently for people wishing to raise their own chickens in their backyards and try to incorporate the country into city life.

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