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Sag Harbor Chicken Regulations Come Back to Roost

In the 2012 Dan’s Papers Memorial Day edition, there appeared an article on the war that was being waged in Sag Harbor Village regarding how many chickens a homeowner could raise on their property. This article and others (Dan’s Papers was and continues to be a leader in the area of East End chicken reporting) chronicled Village efforts to regulate the number and type of chickens a homeowner could have based on lot sizes.

In the end, the Village confirmed several laws they felt were in the best interest of the citizenry. Thus the existing regulation at the time was interpreted and amended to allow that one live chicken be permitted for every 3,500 square feet of lot. Unfortunately, these archaic laws are now coming home to roost.

Fast-forward to 2015, and we currently find ourselves feeling the effects of a virulent avian influenza outbreak across the Midwest. Also known as “bird flu,” this disease has resulted in the recent culling of more than 40 million chickens. As a result, we are now facing a nationwide egg shortage.

The wholesale price of eggs has recently increased from $1.19 to $2.03 in a matter of months. In some places, restaurants and food producers are even being asked to cut back their use of eggs.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs have predicted the egg crisis will cost consumers between $7.5–8 billion dollars.

Sag Harbor Village residents find themselves helpless as they try to cope with this egg shortage. Longtime Village resident Kim says, “My son’s birthday is in August and if I don’t have the eggs necessary to bake his favorite cake he will be devastated. The two chickens I’m currently allowed can barely keep up with our basic demands, and I am always having to supplement with store-bought eggs.”

“I have four children and I won’t be able to afford to buy eggs if the price goes up anymore” Mary, who also lives in the Village, says. “I would like to have a dozen Rhode Island Red laying hens, but according to regulations, my lot will only permit one and a half chickens”.

“Sadly, if people in other parts of the country turn to the charitable East End for egg support, Sag Harbor Village will have no surplus to offer because of these stupid regulations,” Mary adds.

Under the current regulations, despite this egg crisis of epic proportions, Kim, Mary and other Village residents would face considerable fines and possibly even jail if they attempt to expand the size of their flocks.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. The Village needs to immediately repeal the existing chicken regulations and allow up to 50 hens per 3,500 square feet of lot size. Regulations will remain in effect for roosters since a hen does not need a rooster to lay eggs.

Do we really want little Timmy and Suzie in the Village forced to eat Pop-Tarts every morning? Do we want our only eggs to be Eggo? I think not.

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