New Health Regs for Owners of Chickens and Bees

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

If you are in to keeping chickens or bees, the Board of Health has ramped up its regulations and plans to present them to the town’s Ordinance Review Committee for review.

The proposed regulations do not address other animals. Dogs, birds, cats, ferrets guinea pigs, reptiles or amphibians come under state regulations and other local regulations.

“We fine-tuned the regulations,” said Board of Health chair Nick LoConte. “There is no taking of an animal unless the animal’s life is at stake.”

Now if you want to own chickens or bees you must obtain a two-year license from the town. No more than six chickens (no roosters) are allowed on a property. Coops must be 200 feet from any sideline or source of drinking water. Chickens must be kept in a shelter and cannot roam free. Manure must be removed frequently and cannot be stored within 200 feet of a wetland, well, or abutter’s dwelling.

Board of Health member Tracy Honan spent most of the time on the regulations.

As for bees, there can be no more than two hives not to be more than 20 feet in size. Hives must be more than 10 feet away from side and rear property lines, and sidewalks. Hives must also have fly-away barriers. The beekeeper must also comply with state beekeeping laws.

Large domesticated animals such as cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs (excluding Vietnamese pot-belly pigs), sheep and llamas, or poisonous reptiles are allowed in the Town of Winthrop.

When it comes to cats, especially “cat lady” homes, Honan said they would be addressed on a case by case basis under the general nuisance laws.

In other business:

  • The Board of Health was given an update from Winthrop’s Commissioner of Inspectional Services Al Legee. He said he is working with officials on four properties that are falling into receivership for various reasons. His department has also mailed out 100 letters to the Shore Drive area and its side streets. The letters target absentee landlords and the conditions of their property.
  • Legee is stepping up his concerns about grease traps in local restaurants, especially in the town center. At least one establishment had a backed up grease trap recently. He stressed the importance of having them cleaned out regularly because the infrastructure in the area.

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