Henhouse puts neighbors in fowl mood

HOCKESSIN, Del. - September 23, 2009 Kathleen Hildebrand never dreamed she'd be ruffling the feathers of some neighbors in her spacious Hockessin community just because of her tiny little decorative henhouse.

"I've got a pretty nice enclosure here. I've got a well made house. You can peek inside and see it's right clean, it is a chicken coop but it's clean," Hildebrand said.

However, clean and cute doesn't cut it in New Castle County where the codes say farm animals like chickens are only allowed on properties that are an acre or more; Kathleen's property is 2/3 of an acre.

Kathleen has had her chickens for about 3 and a half years and even shares her eggs with neighbors, but when one neighbor squawked about her rooster, county code enforcers came calling and that started a whole debate over the birds.

As a result, Kathleen did get rid of her rooster, but she is determined to keep her chicks. That's why she's called on County councilman William Tansey to amend the code to allow chickens on half acre properties. Even though his amendment would not permit roosters, the fight for chickens is worth it for him.

"The only time a chicken makes any noise is when it lays an egg and these chickens lay 20 eggs a week. That means you're going to get a cluck 20 times a week. How bad is that?" Councilman Tansey said.

Those clucks are bad enough as far as some nearby neighbors are concerned.

"If it was someplace else that would be fine, but since it's close to my home, I'd rather not have the chicken coop behind us," Hockessin resident Lisa Brooks said.

"I just think it takes away from the atmosphere and there's a certain style of living here," resident Morgan Shoeneberger said.

"I really don't think it belongs in a residential setting like this," resident Bob Nye said.

A public hearing on Kathleen's chickens is set to be scheduled soon and it's anybody's guess how the wind will blow on this issue.

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