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Great Neck family's chickens find new home

One of Alfred Basal's pet chickens in the

One of Alfred Basal's pet chickens in the back yard of his Great Neck home. Basal started a petition for the the Great Neck VIllage board to change the status of chickens from nuisance to pet in the village code. (March 18, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The backyard chickens that stirred up a debate over whether such fowl should be permitted as pets in the Village of Great Neck have been relocated, their former owner said.

Alfred Basal, who brought the banned birds home to his children last year, said he has moved the coop to the Restoration Farm at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, where they are "fine" and laying eggs.

"I take my children every week over there," he said.

While Basal is glad to have found a place where his three boys -- who came up with names for the birds including Fluffy and Cutie -- can visit, he said he is upset about being fined $100 because of the coop. He said the fine was "ridiculous."

A village spokesman said Basal was issued a summons for building without a permit a structure in his backyard that was too close to his property line.

At village court on May 16, Basal pleaded guilty and was fined.

In February, the village learned about Basal's half-dozen chickens and gave him a notice of violation.

After a public hearing, the village board of trustees declined last month to ease a ban on chickens, which under village code are considered nuisance animals like pigs, goats and donkeys.

Proponents said the chickens were educational. But neighbors cited noise and health concerns.

Village officials said the government does not have enough personnel to regulate chickens.

Basal said he asked the village for more time to find a home for the chickens, but he was told he had to move them by April 27 or face a penalty.

Basal said he removed the coop by that date, but when he contacted the village again, he was told he had to appear in village court.

Faced with a choice between going to trial and paying a fine, he said, "I agreed to pay a fine."

Great Neck is one of several villages on Long Island that bans chickens. Some villages permit them with restrictions.

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