CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — A problem dismissed by the Cape Elizabeth Town Council two years ago is back on the table after neighbors couldn’t resolve a dispute over a crowing rooster. Councilor Kathy Ray brought up the problem at Wednesday’s council workshop after receiving a letter from Joe Gajda, who lives at 15 Farm Hill Road.
On Wednesday, Gajda said he has made many failed attempts to have his neighbor, Pat Kennedy of 17 Farm Hill Road, quiet a crowing rooster. But because there is no noise ordinance governing roosters, Gajda asked the council for an ordinance banning roosters on small, residential lots.
On Thursday, Kennedy said he didn’t know his neighbors took the issue to the council. “I wasn’t aware [Gajda] had gone to the Town Council,” Kennedy said. “He asked me to get rid of [the rooster], and that upset me.”
Gajda said lots in his neighborhood are less than a quarter of an acre, which makes it very easy to hear Kennedy’s rooster, which crows throughout the day, starting in the early hours. “If the rooster decides to start its day at 4:30, I start my day at 4:30,” Gajda said. “There’s no chance and no choice.”
Gajda said his family’s quality of life is affected, and other neighbors who addressed the council on Wednesday agreed.
“The noise is very loud and anything that can be done to protect the silence would be appreciated,” Farm Hill Road resident Troy Clark said. Kennedy said he has measured the noise level of his rooster’s crow at 60 decibels. He said that is lower than the sound measured from crows and songbirds.
“The issue to me is if my rooster is quieter than crows and songbirds, will they ban those too?” Kennedy said. “I think there should be an across-the-board decibel level.” In March 2012, after similar noise complaints, the council considered an ordinance that would have restricted roosters. But the matter was dropped after the “rooster in question” disappeared.
On Wednesday, councilors said this seems like a problem that may occur again if not addressed now. “Quite frankly, I have no sympathy,” Kennedy said. “This is a free country. If you don’t like it, tough luck.”
In his letter to councilors, Gajda suggested that a half acre or one acre be the minimum lot size required for having a rooster. He said he does not want to restrict the town’s farming and agriculture community. Gajda said he owns backyard chickens, which are used for their eggs. He said Kennedy’s rooster has been a problem for the past two months, and has even attacked his hens.
Gajda and the other neighbors said they have asked Kennedy to fix the problem, but that he refused. Kennedy said that’s untrue. “The whole culture in Cape is ‘let’s talk to each other and complain rather than go directly to the person we have a problem with,’” he said.
The neighbors said they have called the police multiple times, but that nothing can be done because rooster noise isn’t covered under existing laws against disturbing the peace or for animal control.
“My hope is that the town will acknowledge that keeping a rooster is not an appropriate choice in residential areas,” he said. “None of the neighbors want a fight. We just want our peaceful environment back.” Kennedy said he will stand his ground. “It’s silly. At this point [the neighbors] are being stubborn and obnoxious,” he said. “Who the hell are you to tell me I can’t have a rooster?”
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“My town is full of beauties like this. Overgrown grass and yard, swing sets, grills, scrap this and that, and a whole bunch of other useless crap.” - C.M.
“too early for Halloween or Christmas so I don’t think it’s a decoration - in any event, my kids think this house and whatever is next to the mailbox is super creepy” M.B.
“From my hometown in Lisbon, Maine.” - J.H.
We’re giving this an A for effort and a solid D- for appearance given the awkward-looking siding on the house. But who really cares what we think… what’s the verdict - tasteful or tacky?!
- Milo, Maine