LACONIA — Jeffrey and Bridgette Leroux, owners of a pet rooster named ''Pecker'', that they keep at their home at 58 North Street in Lakeport, say they plan to appeal the Zoning Board of Adjustment's denial of a rehearing on it's decision not to grant them a variance that would let them keep the rooster as a pet to Superior Court.
Monday night the board voted 4-1 to deny the Lerouxs' request for a rehearing, prompting an angry reaction from Bridgette Leroux, who turned on the neighbors who had made the complaint about their rooster, Dan Ouellete and his wife, Amanda., who were seated behind them at the Belknap Mill.
''Want to step outside?'' she said to the Ouelletes, standing up and pointing her finger at them. She then said ''Grow up. We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for you,'' and uttered a profanity as she started to leave the room.
Steve Bogert, chairman of board, said that unless the disruption ended he would have to have Leroux removed from the hearing room.
Bogert then advised Jeffrey Leroux that if he planned to go the next level and appeal that he should do so in a timely manner as there was a time limit in which an appeal could be filed with Belknap County Superior Court.
Members of the Leroux family and their supporters left the Belknap Mill and remained outside for a short period of time in which several of them maintained that there was a second rooster being kept in the Lakeport area, near Leavitt Park, and that it could have been that rooster whose crowing had annoyed their neighbors.
No public input was allowed at the meeting on the request for a rehearing. The request had been made by the Lerouxs in a letter written to the board in which they maintained that he rooster was a pet and not being kept for agricultural purposes. The appeal also included several letters of support for allowing them to keep the rooster as a pet.
Board member Orrie Gibbs, the only member of the board to support the request for a rehearing, said that she could not see how the bird could be regarded as agriculture and said if that was the case then anyone who has a garden or a fruit tree would be in violation of the city zoning ordinance.
Jeffrey Leroux bought the rooster at Sandwich Fair last year as a pet for his wife. In December, the Planning Department told the Lerouxs that the zoning ordinance prohibited the keeping of poultry in a residential district and advised them that they would either have to give up the rooster or apply for a variance.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders has said that the zoning ordinance defines "agriculture" as "the production, keeping or maintenance for sale, lease or personal use, of plants and animals," including poultry, and forbids agricultural uses of property in residential districts like North Street.
On May 18 the ZBA denied the Lerouxs' request for a variance by a 4-1 vote, with only Gibbs dissenting.
Board member Wayne Greski said that granting a variance would open the door to other requests and that people who had purchased homes in residential areas have an expectation that ''they're not going to have a cow looking in their window.''
Board member Suzanne Perley, noting that a proposed ordinance which would have allowed chickens in certain parts of the city and which had been rejected by the planning board would have barred the door to roosters.
Gail Ober, another board member, said that she was not convinced that letters of support constituted new evidence and moved to deny the request because it had presented no new evidence.
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