Not over yet: Wheatfield family that cried “fowl” loses appeal to keep chickens, but finds solution on nearby property


WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Wheatfield family who’d been fighting to keep chickens in their backyard lost the battle at Wednesday night’s public hearing on the matter. We first told you about the Holzles in May.

The good news is, they’ve worked out a deal with the farm owner adjacent to their property, so the chickens won’t have to go too far away in the end.

Parts of Wheatfield, which is a “right to farm” town, allow farm life, but not the Holzles property, which is less than two acres and zoned residential. So, Kim Holzle proposed a zoning variance, which came to a head at a planning board public hearing last night.

She says the planning board denied their request despite support from nearly all neighbors, minus one.

“Unfortunately, it did not go in our favor. They had their minds made up before we even sat down, so it was unfortunate, but we taught Mason that you fight for what you believe in, and even though it may not look like we will win, you still have got to fight and always have a backup plan,” Kim Holzle said.

That backup plan means the Holzles will lease some land on the farm adjacent to their property, and move the chickens back 100 feet from neighbors. News 4 reached out to several people with the Town of Wheatfield today to try and hear from them on how they reached their decision.

The planning board did not get back to News 4, we were told it would take several days before last night’s meeting minutes are publicly available.

UPDATE: The planning board responded to our inquiry on Tuesday:

Planning & Zoning Board Action: Added 7/20/2021

A. Relative to compliance with laws, regulations and codes, we find that this poultry farming is not allowed relative to Town Codes for residential areas and this property size and site plan details.

B. Relating to being detrimental to adjacent uses, we find this is detrimental to full use and safety of neighboring properties.

C. Relative to traffic, pedestrian safety, parking and emergency responses, we do not see significant issues.

D. Relative to water and drainage, photographic evidence of current and historical times verify that this is an issue.

E.  Relative to property size, topography, hydrology, and screening for neighboring properties, there are significant issues here.  Among these issues, including drainage, is the extended black plastic fencing that is not code complaint

F.  Relative to noise, dust, odors, solid wastes, and nuisances, there are uncontained issues impacting neighbors.

G.  Relative to aesthetics impacts with adjacent properties, there are noted and stated impacts.  And 

H.  Relative to congestion, dangerous, or unattractive impacts, there are serious health and safety questions relative to poultry exposures to the neighbor and children.

Due to these issues. I am making a motion for this Planning Board to not approve this Poultry Farming Temporary Special Use Permit.  In addition, and if the vote is to deny this Poultry Farming Temporary Special Use Permit, this motion further specifies that the poultry livestock be removed within one month.  This can be verified through the Town Inspector.

This motion was seconded and approved by unanimous vote.

Walt Garrow, Planning Board Chairman

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