Urban farms and community gardens are becoming a growing trend in the City of Binghamton. And officials are trying to update their current zoning ordinances to accommodate the growing popularity. Our Melissa Kakareka tells us how the changes will impact the community.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- If you walk through the yard of Dan Livingston and Rebecca Heller-Steinberg, you'll find raspberries, tomatoes and even fresh eggs laid by their four chickens.
"Eating a fresh egg is so much better than a store-bought egg. If you crack them side by side, the yolks from our eggs are bright gold orange and the ones from the supermarket are a pale yellow," said Heller-Steinberg.
They are just one example of a growing trend in the city that has many people raising their own livestock or taking part in community gardens and urban farms.
"We are seeing a growing number of residents interested in keeping chickens to help reduce their food budget, but also to allow them to know where their food is coming from. We're seeing that become very important for folks and their families," said Binghamton Sustainable Development Planner Amelia LoDolce.
City officials are proposing a new ordinance that would more clearly define the rules regarding those activities. For example, it would do things such as increase the number of chickens and rabbits people are allowed to keep from four to six and would address rules for housing miniature livestock, like sheep and goats.
City officials say they've also included ways to prevent potential nuisances and problems.
"For example, roosters would not be allowed. On urban farms, you wouldn't be allowed to use heavy equipment and machinery would be limited to certain hours," said LoDolce.
It's a proposal that city officials are hoping will create a more sustainable community. And one that can help clear up any confusion.
"It's not entirely clear what you can do with composts in the city, what you can do with chickens in the city, where they can be. There's all these things that are up to the discretion to code enforcement and this would make what I'm doing here much more clearly allowed," said Livingston.
The proposal was presented to the City Council during a work session Monday night. It will now be passed on to the council's Planning and Community Development Committee for further discussion. There will also be an opportunity for public input at some point.