Chicken petition gets national attention

GAITHERSBURG – The chickens are coming home to roost again in Gaithersburg – this time on the custom end of a petition gaining national attention.


Aaron Rosenzweig, a Gaithersburg resident, has been campaigning for several months to end the city’s ban on owning roosters. He moved to Gaithersburg last year in large part because the city permitted chickens, and purchased several chickens, including a rooster. They were originally housed in a pen on his front yard, where they were community pets, free for all neighborhood residents to visit.


According to Rosenzweig, trouble began when a neighborhood resident who was unhappy about the chickens called the city’s animal control services, whose officers subsequently visited his house on multiple occasions.


Rosenzweig said that the officers originally told him that city ordinances banned crowing roosters, but that this was inaccurate as the city has banned roosters outright since 2010. Rosenzweig moved the chickens’ dwelling to his backyard and constructed a fence. After doing that, he said there were no further visits from Animal Control, but he still regarded the ban as unjust and dangerous.


Rosenzweig testified numerous times before Mayor Jud Ashman and the city council at public meetings, often accompanied by his son Akiva and daughter Rachel. In his testimony, Rosenzweig argued that none of his immediate neighbors had ever complained about the noise or smell of his birds, that roosters crow no louder than a dog barks, and that because it is difficult to tell a rooster from a hen, the ban makes it possible for any resident who does not like chickens to have them removed. He also launched a petition on to call for the ban to be lifted.


City officials, while acknowledging Rosenzweig’s right to petition the government, have also defended the rooster ban, regarding it as a closed matter.


After a hiatus of several months, Rosenzweig returned to City Hall on September 21 to testify once again.


“I didn’t feel that it was satisfactorily resolved,” Rosenzweig said.


On Tuesday, published a feature article on Rosenzweig’s petition, presenting it as an example of using media coverage to achieve a goal. In the article, Rosenzweig credits the Sentinel’s coverage of his case with building public support for his cause, noting that the day after a story ran with a link to the petition, 100 new people signed.


Rosenzweig said that he is seeking a three part resolution to the problem: first, that his family be issued a temporary permit to keep a prohibited animal in accordance with the city codes, second, that the city publicly apologize for the way his family’s case was handled, and finally, that the city agrees to take a fresh look at the animal ordinances within the next 12 to 24 months and allows his family to participate.


“We should explicitly allow roosters as long as they don’t create too much noise,” Rosenzweig said. “Have one noise ordinance for all animals and activity. In particular, something should be done to ensure that city staff always read the ordinances and always show citizens, in writing, what they have violated. There are ways to ensure this happens.”


“The city will consider Mr. Rosenzweig’s case on its merits,” said Ashman, who as a council member, cast the only dissenting vote on the rooster ban in 2010. “As far as I’m concerned, the ban is a settled matter, but he is welcome to keep testifying.”


The article is available to read online at




Fourth-grade girl embraces pope moment

The first person Pope Francis approached on his way from the Apostolic Nunciature to his Congress-bound motorcade Sept. 24 was a fourth grader from Brookewood School, an all-girl school in Kensington.

Before the pope appeared, Annie Bist, fourth grade teacher at Brookewood, told Shannan Croarkin, the youngest Brookewood girl there, to squeeze between people in front of her toward a Brookewood senior who was closer to the fence that would separate the crowd from the pope. The red-haired fourth grader ended up next to fence that was closest to the Nunciature door, Bist said.


Pope dines with homeless

WASHINGTON — Some Catholic Charities customers from Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County met Pope Francis after he addressed Congress on Sept. 24.
Pope Francis shook hands and spoke with homeless or otherwise marginalized people who are clients of Catholic Charities medical services or who stay in homeless shelters of Catholic Charities.

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