Byram, township of chickens

| 16 Aug 2020 | 11:31

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Byram Township Council.

Byram Council,

It appears that all the members of the council agree to limit the time for public participation for only the proposed new backyard chicken ordinance.

At the meeting on 7/21, one council member who approves of the new ordinance asked for a 3-5 minute limit on public participation and accused a resident who is against the new ordinance of a mini chicken filibuster at the meeting before on 7/6. The fact that the public had not been given a time restriction to speak on 7/6 by the mayor went unchallenged by the rest of the council.

I am disappointed in your lack of fair-minded research and unabashed display of bias toward accommodating a chicken ordinance violator. All of you admit to a lack of knowledge and firsthand experience in this matter. However, an ordinance was immediately fast tracked after the violator spoke on 6/1, to a 4-1 approval vote upon introduction at the next meeting on 6/16. The feedback presented to you by residents who have cited violators in our town and the information they researched from professional sources regarding the keeping of backyard chickens should have collectively raised serious concerns.

Unfortunately, some of you have shown your personal desire to seriously dismantle Byram’s present chicken ordinance (five acres ) by a cut-and-paste carve out of Newton’s very permissive chicken ordinance. You have overlooked that surrounding towns near Byram are 3-5 acres and have been consistently marginalizing and mocking opposition to allowing chickens on any single family residential lot as small as one-quarter acre. Wow! Byram, township of chickens!

The mayor has always been generous with everyone during council meeting’s public participation, recently engaging a business owner who spoke for 25 minutes. Filibustering? Now it appears it depends on the subject. Council protocol matters, and it should be applied equally for all the public and all the subjects that are eligible.

Mayor Alex, changing your policy on public participation in the middle of our council meeting on 7/21 (unannounced) to five minutes for one resident to speak against the new backyard chicken ordinance and then allowing 10 minutes for another resident to speak about another subject makes the case for my observation. In addition to your characterization stated by the chicken ordinance violator on Glenside Trail at the 6/1 council mteeting during their initial public participation, as you the mayor, “tagging” the resident who reported their violations as a little bit stir crazy and bored!

As has been said befor,e the council makes the decisions but we have to live with them.

Our council is elected by the eligible voters and serve at our pleasure in Byram township. As public servants, upholding the quality of life for the residents matters.

Creating a new backyard chicken ordinance for a few who were cited for violating our present ordinance sends the wrong message.


Jeanne Moran

Byram Township