Keeping chickens in New York City has become a popular hobby, especially in precincts of Brooklyn where foodies and do-it-yourselfers prize locally grown food. Ms. Saye, 48, bought a dozen heritage chickens last July to provide free-range eggs for her daughter, Scarlett, 5, because she wants to serve foods that are free of hormones.
“I got them for nutritional reasons,” Ms. Saye said. “You can’t buy these eggs in a supermarket.”
Ms. Saye bought a $2,500 coop and had fencing installed to protect the chickens from predators. But a month ago, she learned of a different type of threat to her chickens: the stringent restrictions that homeowners in her neighborhood are supposed to abide by.
Ms. Saye lives in Forest Hills Gardens, a private neighborhood nestled in one of the more pristine sections of New York City. It is renowned for its stately country garden style, multimillion-dollar Tudor and Georgian homes, and for its strict regulations, which forbid the keeping of backyard chickens.
Ms. Saye has been ordered by the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, which manages the neighborhood, to get rid of the chickens. In a recent letter, corporation officials cited the nuisances section of a century-old homeowners’ covenant.
The rules were set down in 1913, during the infancy of this 140-acre, leafy swath that is one of America’s oldest planned communities and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., whose father was Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who helped design Central Park.
She noted that the nuisances section also does not allow a “cattle yard, hog pen, fowl yard or house, cesspool, privy vault; nor any cattle, hogs or other live stock or live poultry.”
“These are 101-year-old rules,” she said, adding that she decided to order the chickens after seeing Martha Stewart talk about them on television. She even bought the birds from the website that Ms. Stewart recommended, Mypetchicken.com.
Mitchell Cohen, the president of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, said the regulations detailed in the homeowners’ covenant and restrictions are meant “to protect the whole community” and an “amazing document that has held the test of time.”
You can buy free range eggs at stores. Don't buy a house in a privileged neighborhood and then act like you're above the rules that make it a privileged neighborhood. The wealthy have such problems, don't they?