Docs instructed Amy Martin of Bangor her son possible wouldn’t dwell longer than two years.
C-Jay Martin was born utterly blind with a bilateral cleft palate and lip, lacking one-third of his mind and half of his proper lung, and his coronary heart is on the correct facet of his chest slightly than his left, Amy Martin mentioned. He additionally has autism, epilepsy and ADHD.
Right this moment, he’s 25, loves to finish puzzles, meet new folks and might recite books verbatim. However maybe his favourite factor to do is to look after his six yard chickens, which function his consolation animals.
Subsequent month, the Bangor Board of Appeals will think about the household’s formal request to maintain their chickens, regardless of a metropolis ordinance prohibiting the household from proudly owning them primarily based on the place they dwell in Bangor.
The assembly will come after Martin was unable to informally get permission to have the chickens as an inexpensive lodging for a incapacity, which led her to file a discrimination criticism in opposition to town with the Maine Human Rights Fee.
“I despatched [the city] all the knowledge explaining why we wish chickens however we perceive there’s an ordinance in opposition to it,” Martin mentioned. “The applying town wished me to fill out had nothing to do with requesting affordable lodging for a service animal, however they insisted that’s what I wanted to do.”
Martin’s frustration is an instance of the miscommunication that may occur when residents battle to navigate a bureaucratic maze in the event that they want a query answered or they’ve a request to make. Likewise, metropolis officers might grapple with easy methods to clarify sophisticated jargon and procedures in a manner that residents perceive.
“It nonetheless doesn’t make sense to me,” Martin mentioned. “I shouldn’t should develop into a lawyer to determine how to do that.”
In February, Martin contacted town searching for a casual affordable lodging for emotional help animals beneath the Division of Housing and City Improvement and the Honest Housing Act. She defined she wished to get consolation chickens to ease her son’s despair, anxiousness and isolating habits that developed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Throughout COVID, C-Jay began struggling as a result of he’s very social and we misplaced all our actions and nobody came to visit,” Martin mentioned. “For the previous two years, he wasn’t speaking to anybody and was very withdrawn.”
C-Jay Martin’s medicine specialist even really useful the household get chickens after Martin researched explanation why chickens particularly could be an excellent consolation animal for her son, as a result of he’s capable of look after them and luxuriate in spending time with them together with his particular mixture of situations.
“His physician wished to have the ability to go to courtroom and defend her prescription and say ‘That is the one viable choice for him particularly,’” Martin mentioned. “It could not work for everybody, however it works for him.”
For instance, the “rooster chatter” noises enable him to know the place the chickens are, and chickens aren’t simply startled by C-Jay’s self-stimulating behaviors like flapping his fingers or spinning in circles.
Chickens are additionally usually calm and straightforward to look after, which helps C-Jay create a routine that’s satisfying and comforting with out being overwhelming and provides him a cause to go outdoors a number of instances a day.
“Because the chickens got here, he’s excited, feels extra concerned and has extra of a goal,” Martin mentioned. “He’s a lot happier and goes outdoors extra as a result of he’s popping out within the morning to allow them to out and places them to mattress at night time.”
Three of the chickens have names — Popcorn, Cheeks and Stella — as Martin is for certain they’re hens. The opposite three chickens will get names when she’s certain they’re hens.
Apart from the six chickens, the Martins have one cat named Spoofy, one canine named Marley, and 4 tanks of fish.
After a string of emails with varied metropolis workers, Martin mentioned she was instructed to fill out an software to ask the Board of Appeals to vary town’s legislation prohibiting chickens in sure residential areas of Bangor, which she by no means meant to do. She additionally didn’t perceive why she was being directed to the appeals board, and the way precisely to finish the enchantment software.
The household was then given six chicks in March, however 4 got away after they turned out to be roosters, Martin mentioned, so she purchased 4 extra chicks to finish the flock. The chickens now dwell within the household’s yard the place they’re capable of roam across the backyard till C-Jay Martin closes them in a coop in a single day.
Martin believed, primarily based on info she discovered on HUD’s web site, that she may have the chickens as a result of they’re help animals really useful by a well being care skilled, then ask town to maintain them as affordable lodging. Town, nonetheless, expects residents to achieve permission from town’s Appeals Board earlier than doing one thing prohibited by native legislation.
Whereas she by no means instructed town she has chickens, Martin mentioned she “assumes they know by now.”
“I’ve talked to all my neighbors they usually’re high-quality with it, and my next-door neighbor is on town council,” she mentioned.
Jeff Wallace, Bangor’s code enforcement director, nonetheless, mentioned town was unaware of any chickens at Martin’s handle as of Sept. 20, and town has not obtained any complaints about chickens there.
In April, Martin filed a criticism in opposition to Bangor with the Maine Human Rights Fee claiming town was discriminating in opposition to her son for not granting a casual affordable lodging.
The fee dismissed Martin’s criticism in September after discovering no proof of discrimination, as “a governmental company is unable to grant casual affordable lodging to metropolis ordinances,” in accordance with the investigation report town obtained.
Within the meantime, Martin accomplished the enchantment software, “regardless that it had nothing to do with submitting for an inexpensive lodging or an emotional help animal,” she mentioned.
Martin mentioned she understands why a metropolis official or resident might imagine it is a case the place somebody is masking their want for chickens behind the title of “emotional help animals,” however she mentioned that’s removed from the reality.
“We’re not trying to promote eggs on the weekends or increase meat birds,” Martin mentioned. “They’re a therapeutic system for C-Jay.”
The Bangor Board of Appeals will resolve whether or not the Martins can preserve their chickens on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m.
Town’s board of appeals thought of a request for emotional help chickens in 2020, which it denied, in accordance with Wallace.
If the board denies the household’s request, Martin mentioned she’s ready to proceed combating for her son’s proper to have his consolation rooster, even when it means taking the case to the Supreme Courtroom.
“Why would I let this go?” she mentioned. “Simply because somebody says no doesn’t imply that’s the ultimate reply. If I don’t strive, who’s going to?”