Alfred Basal with one of his pet chickens in the...

Alfred Basal with one of his pet chickens in the back yard of his Great Neck home. He has 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

About a year ago, Alfred Basal bought six chicks and brought them home to his three sons.

Months later, "they began giving me eggs every morning," Basal said.

But in February, the Village of Great Neck discovered his backyard chicken coop and gave Basal 10 days to get rid of the chickens, which his sons, aged 4, 6 and 8, have given names including Fluffy, Chickie, Chirpie and Cutie.

Considered nuisance animals like pigs, goats and donkeys, chickens are banned in the village. Basal wants to change that.

"I don't want to give them away," said Basal's son Brandon, 8. The chickens, he said, produce about six eggs a day.

The elder Basal appeared at the March 6 board of trustees meeting, with supporters and a petition of more than 100 signatures asking that chickens be stricken from the nuisance animal list. Roosters, however, would remain.

"I'm not asking for a rooster, because a rooster makes a lot of noise," Basal said. "A chicken does not need a rooster to make eggs."

Basal said the chickens are educational for his children, provide an organic source of food and produce a fertilizer far safer than store-bought brands filled with chemicals.

Village officials are considering the request -- one they hadn't considered before, Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said.

"Our village isn't Kings Point where they have 1-acre zoning" that can accommodate animals generally associated with farms, he said. "It's something we're going to have to think about."

Villages across Long Island handle the issue of chickens in a variety of ways.

Centre Island, Hempstead, Great Neck Plaza, Greenport and Port Washington North do not allow chickens.

Freeport allows as many as two chickens, ducks or geese to be kept as household pets. In Amityville, fowl must be kept 200 yards away from neighboring homes. In East Hills, chickens are banned, as are reptiles and bee hives. Horses are allowed.

Fowl in East Hampton are prohibited if they affect public peace or health and those found running at large can be sold at public auction.

Islandia has a seven-part provision relating to chickens, which are allowed but only in backyards enclosed by a fence and no more than 15 can be kept per 500 square feet of backyard.

Properties with chickens get checked periodically, said Michael Zaleski, an Islandia code enforcement officer. The village stresses daily cleaning as coop areas can attract cockroaches, flies and rats. "A lot of rats start coming around," he said. "They're drawn to the food. It's the nature of the beast."

Great Neck has no animal control department and only a handful of code enforcement employees. "One of my concerns is policing" any change to allow chickens, Kreitzman said, adding a decision on Basal's request isn't likely until late April.

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