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LETTER: Hens deserve fair chance

Editor, The Spotlight;

I’m grateful for the article in the Spotlight of May 28 entitled “G’land denies chicken request.” Grateful because I was perplexed why Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals member Sindi Saita voted against the application of Dale Owen to maintain pet hens in his backyard in Guilderland. The other two members of the ZBA voted in the affirmative.

The article provides some insight on her motivation and frankly, it’s disturbing to read her thought process in arriving at her “no” vote.

Ms. Saita explains that most of the immediate neighbors were opposed to the application. What she doesn’t explain is why she disregarded the extensive information provided by those who supported the application, which clearly diffused the neighbors’ objections. There were two major opponents to the application; one who did not understand the concept of pet hens and the significant difference between barnyards and backyards, and the other with wild speculation best described in the Spotlight Editorial last week: “But all these ‘woulds, coulds and mights’ are just speculation and are rarely backed up by anything more than anecdotal evidence.”

Nor did Ms. Saita consider that the ZBA had previously approved two such applications that have caused no deleterious effects on those other two neighborhoods. Didn’t Ms. Saita even consider that the success of these other families which won the support of their neighbors might indicate that perhaps the Owen’s family neighbors are in error?

Ms. Saita also pointed out that she lives in a “planned urban development” that does not allow chickens, which was a part of the reason she chose to live there. However, there is no restriction in the law in the Town of Guilderland which makes reference to the ownership of hens. So, Ms. Saita applied this rule of her “planned urban development” to the application of the Owen’s family and potentially others in the Town of Guilderland. She was clearly prejudiced against this application based on these statements.  

In effect, Ms. Saita denied the Owen’s family a fair hearing basing her decision on factually incorrect and prejudicial information. The Zoning Board of Appeals vote should be nullified and a new vote rescheduled with Ms. Saita abstaining from the second vote.

The Owen’s family as residents of Guilderland are entitled to a fair evaluation of their application. This was denied to them when Sindi Saita cast her “no” vote.

Gerard Houser

Guilderland

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