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Raising chickens for sustainability a ‘no go’ in Town of Tonawanda

“I don't want the chickens to go"
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 18:27:56-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — You might say a Town of Tonawanda family is crying “fowl”. They have been ordered to remove chickens from their backyard.

The chickens are in violation of the town code.

The family is raising the chickens for fear of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chickens in Town of Tonawanda yard.

“It all actually started from going to the store one day and not having eggs,” explained Eva Majus, Town of Tonawanda resident.

Majus sat in the backyard of a town home she rents, describing her grocery store experience during the height of the pandemic, realizing how much she uses eggs for baking and breakfast.

“After that — it was kind of a scare, especially when we heard that it could happen again, another wave could come, even worse than the first one,” Majus referring to the pandemic.

Eva Majus, Town of Tonawanda resident, talked about raising chickens in her yard.

That's when the Majus family decided to raise
six young chickens.

They purchased the chickens as chicks, raising them over the last couple of month, but now the Town of Tonawanda says they must be removed.

“The town has given me one week to get rid of the chickens and I believe the coup as well,” said Majus.

Majus says she misunderstood when researching town rules on raising chickens. She received violation orders from the town’s code enforcement officer.

“I don't know who filed a complaint. I wish I did, so I could talk to them,” Majus explained. “My neighbors knew this was something I openly explained and let everyone know, and, of course, gave everyone an opportunity to say I’m not okay with that.”

The town’s building department told 7 Eyewitness News chickens are in violation of the zoning law.

Eva Majus and daughter Rachel show off their chicken coup.

Majus is not alone in her quest to raise chickens.

Brockton Malenke drafted proposed zoning ordinance to raise chickens in the City of Tonawanda, but it was rejected.

“I was very surprised that I received such opposition to the idea of raising just a few. It’s not even a large number of hens in your back yard,” Malenke noted.

Brockton Malenke drafted proposed zoning ordinance to raise chickens in the City of Tonawanda.

Malenke tells us he's not sure if he will continue his effort because city lawmakers are not in favor of the change.

“I do have the opportunity to submit a formal petition that’s signed by residents of the City of Tonawanda. I’m still on the fence on whether or not I want to that because I know it is ultimately up to the city council members and I know there is opposition out there," replied Malenke.

By comparison, residents in Buffalo, Amherst and North Tonawanda are allowed to raise up to five hens.

“I figured well — it’s got to be fine if the City of Buffalo has chickens,” Majus remarked.

Majus says she will comply with the town's order, but her children, Rachel and Richie are very sad to give up their chickens.

“My children, honestly were heartbroken, mostly because they saw me standing there crying,” recalled Majus.

Richie & Rachel Majus want to keep their chickens.

“I don't want the chickens to go,” Rachel replied. “Yeah, we took such good care of them and we don't want them to just go away after all that work,” Richie responded. “But you understand you can’t have them here right now because the town doesn’t allow it?” asked Buckley. “Yes, yeah,” answered the children.

“The kids have named them. We’ve got lunch, dinner, soup,” Majus laughed.

But Majus is not giving up and posted a petition on, titled "The right to raise chickens", to fight for a zoning rule change.

Majus would also like to appear before the town’s zoning board and make a plea to change the code.