Rooster Noise Ordinance Headed For Town Council

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By: James Kinsella
Published: 03/25/11

Rooster regulation may be dawning in the town of Barnstable.

On Wednesday evening, the Barnstable Agricultural Commission voted unanimously to back a proposed ordinance that would set rules on roosters, who at present lead legally unfettered lives in the town.

As will be no surprise to anyone who has lived within earshot of a rooster, the ordinance principally is concerned with noise.

Non-agricultural roosters—an exemption spelled out in the ordinance—would be required to spend the evening and early-morning hours in an enclosed structure designed to minimize noise.

The ordinance also prohibits the rooster owner to allow the animal to disturb another person’s right to peace or privacy by making loud or continuous noise.

If the crowing can be heard during the day between 7 AM and 7 PM at a distance of 150 feet from the premises where the rooster is kept, or at night between 7 PM and 7 AM at a distance of 50 feet from where the rooster is kept, or the rooster makes continuous noise for more than 10 minutes, the rooster and its owner are in trouble.

The first violation brings a $25 fine; the second, a $50 fine; and the third, a $100 fine.

The fourth violation would bring another $100 fine—and the banning of roosters from the offending premises.

Agricultural commission member Leslie Spencer of Cotuit praised the proposed ordinance as a way to be fair both to people who live near roosters and to responsible rooster owners.

The agricultural commission has been working on a proposed ordinance all winter, according to chairman William Plettner of West Barnstable.

At its meeting a month ago, the commission voted in favor of an earlier version of the ordinance.

But then Town Councilor Henry C. Farnham of West Barnstable, the council’s liaison with the agricultural commission, took that version and got together with assistant town attorney David Houghton for some further review and tweaking.

Among the changes: the stipulation that the rooster structure will be designed to minimize noise, as well as tying the distance of the noise to the time of day or night it is made.

Mr. Farnham also sees the ordinance as a reasonable middle ground for the coexistence of roosters and people.

If the rooster ordinance does not work, “the next step after this is to ban them,” he said.

The ordinance does exempt roosters living on land in agricultural use in the town.

Such a parcel must consist of at least two acres, with documented annual revenue derived from farming of at least $1,000 per acre.

The ordinance is slated to go before the Barnstable Town Council for a first reading at its April 7 meeting.

Mr. Farnham said he, town councilor Janice L. Barton of Marstons Mills and town councilor James F. Munafo Jr. of Hyannis would sponsor the measure.

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