Peacock rearing not regulated in Wilton

Planning and Zoning commissioners were stumped at their June 13 meeting when a resident asked their permission to keep peacocks at her Wilton home.

“She is apparently interested in having two male peacocks at her residence,” began Town Planner Bob Nerney.

“I’ll start by saying that our zoning regulations are what are called permissive regulations, which is sort of the opposite of what it sounds like,” Nerney said.

“Permissive zoning basically says that things that are allowed are expressly stated, and anything that’s not stated is deemed to be prohibited,” he said. This, however, only applies to matters that are up to the Planning and Zoning Commission to regulate.

“On the other hand, zoning really is about buildings, about structures, height — yes, it does regulate uses, so for instance a farm or something of that nature would not be allowed in certain districts, so I’m not sure,” Nerney said.

That uncertainty was the point of the discussion.

“I’m not sure that we have authority over this situation,” said Chair Sally Poundstone.

“Well that’s what we’re asking,” Nerney said. “I’m not sure I would describe it as a use; it’s really more of an activity. I did speak with Animal Control. They’ll step in if there’s an abuse of animals and things of that nature, but they do not regulate this.”

“What other animals would be allowed in this particular zone?” wondered Commissioner Joe Fiteni. “In the zone that this property is in, could you raise chickens?”

“I raise chickens,” Doris Knapp said.

“We actually expressly state that chickens are not regulated, so yes people do raise chickens,” Nerney said.

“Is it humane to keep these beautiful birds in cages?” Poundstone asked.

“I mean, if you look at the general statutes, section 8-2 outlines the parameters that local planning and zoning commissions can look at, and again, it tends to be more structural coverage, setbacks, heights — yes, uses, but if one is keeping two peacocks at a single-family house, the use is still a single-family house,” Nerney said.

“I say go for it,” Knapp said.

“I don’t think we have jurisdiction over this,” Franklin Wong said.

“Well I would like to hear a motion that perhaps states that we do not believe we have the jurisdiction,” Poundstone said.

“I so move,” Knapp motioned, “that we do not have jurisdiction in the matter of whether or not peacock can be kept in a residential area as pets.”

Knapp was seconded by Commissioner Andrea Preston, and the vote carried 6-0-1. Commissioner Rick Tomasetti abstained.

“Now if it’s commercial breeding, that’s a little bit different,” Nerney said. “That becomes commercial enterprise, so this is of the understanding that it would be for pets.”