The sky didn't fall Wednesday night on seven chickens being kept by a West Seneca father and his 10-year-old son even though the family ruffled the feathers of the town Zoning Board of Appeals.
By a 3-2 vote, the zoning board agreed to grant Dennis Sullivan of 1481 Orchard Park Road an extension until September on a six-month variance to keep chickens on the family's property that it granted last fall.
The vote followed Sullivan's admission he failed to follow the terms of that variance by keeping a half-dozen roosters on his property until this week. All poultry raising is prohibited under the town code.
Sullivan agreed in December to give up the roosters – after neighbor complaints – and said he'd build a structure to keep the seven remaining hens, which were once part of his son Liam's elementary school project and later became his pets. It was learned Wednesday that Sullivan did neither.
Instead, Sullivan kept the chickens covered by a tarp in a trailer-type enclosure and a small cage.
"You did not live up to the agreement that you agreed to six months ago," said Mike Harmon, a zoning board member who, along with Evelyn Hicks, voted against granting the extension.
Members Sandra Rosenswie, Michael P. Hughes and Chairman David M. Monolopolus agreed to permit Sullivan to continue to keep his chickens until the board can revisit the issue at an October meeting.
All expressed some reservations, however.
"I feel sorry for your neighbors who had to listen to your roosters," Monolopolus said. "I can't make you build a coop, but I wouldn't want to be a chicken under a tarp either."
Hughes said he'd "reluctantly support" the extension in hopes Sullivan would live up to his promises to maintain the proper number of chickens.
Town officials said no complaints had been received dating back to December.
However, West Seneca Police and officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals did visit the Sullivan property Tuesday evening after being called to check on the situation.
Unlike last fall, Liam did not attend Wednesday's meeting. Sullivan said the boy was shaken up by Tuesday's visit by the police and SPCA officials.
"I wouldn't put him through that again," Sullivan told the board.