FITZWILLIAM — A Richmond Road resident is so fed up with the rooster who was crowing next door he’s proposing an ordinance to ensure he and others can live in peace.
And while the rooster is reported to no longer be around, James T. LaValley says he still wants to put the proposed ordinance before voters at town meeting in March.
“This is going to happen again at some point in town whether it’s to me or someone else. No one should have put up with this inconvenience,” LaValley said Wednesday.
The inconvenience he is referring to is early morning wake-up calls from the rooster that was owned by his neighbors Benjamin and Katharine Thomas.
LaValley said last month the bird was disturbing his lifestyle and his business as a landlord.
Since then, LaValley said a town official told him the rooster is no longer with the Thomases. LaValley said he didn’t know what happened to the bird.
Messages left for the Thomases at their home Wednesday and Thursday weren’t returned.
LaValley said the ordinance he’s proposing is based on one from Barnstable, Mass., that allows residents to show they can be responsible rooster owners, he said. If they can’t be, they’ll be fined up to three times, he said. The fourth time, they’ll lose their rights to have a rooster in town, he said.
According to the Barnstable ordinance, roosters must be kept in a fully enclosed structure between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. to minimize noise.
The owner of a rooster can’t have the bird at any time “annoy another person’s reasonable right to peace or privacy by making loud or continuous noise where such noise is plainly audible between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at a distance of 150 feet from the premises where the rooster is kept,” the ordinance says.
Loud and continuous crowing from a rooster also must not be heard between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. at a distance of 50 feet where the rooster is kept, or “when such noise is continuous in excess of 10 minutes,” according to the ordinance.
“Originally I wanted to ban roosters in the town’s residential district, but I have since realized that was maybe too stringent in my view,” LaValley said.
He believes the proposed ordinance would be a good compromise, he said.
LaValley said he isn’t sure whether the Fitzwilliam Planning Board will draft the ordinance to appear on the town meeting warrant or he’ll have to get it on the warrant by petition. He should know more after the board meeting on Dec. 2.
Planning board Chairman Terry Silverman said Friday that the board is considering a rooster ordinance, and has given the town’s planning assistant some of the materials LaValley left with the board to look over.
“That’s really as far as we’ve gotten,” he said.
Fitzwilliam has a livestock ordinance, which as of 2010, said that livestock and fowl can be kept in any zoning district in Fitzwilliam, as long as owners follow guidelines from the state and University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
Owners must also have livestock and fowl housed in proper shelters, keep manure storage and grazing areas at least 75 feet away from water bodies and wetland areas, and keep livestock and fowl on their properties at all times. They must also make every reasonable effort to “ensure that livestock and fowl do not place an undue burden on neighbors by proximity, odor or noise,” according to the ordinance.
Silverman said if voters pass a rooster ordinance, it would add to the livestock ordinance.
The selectmen have been charged with enforcing that ordinance, and anyone in violation of it can be fined $10 a day for each offense, according to the town’s land use laws.
Selectman Christopher J. Holman confirmed Wednesday that the board has been aware of LaValley’s concerns about roosters in town.
Speaking as an individual, and not on the board’s behalf, Holman said the town already has a nuisance law on the books that can be enforced by giving people $10 to $15 fines for violating it.
It’s unclear why the ordinance wasn’t enforced.
Efforts to reach selectmen Chairman Susan S. Silverman were unsuccessful.
“I support Jim’s quest to have a peaceful home,” Holman said. “I don’t necessarily know that this may be the best route. Sometimes I believe simpler is better.”