What a cock-a-doodle to-do! Families in a flutter as fowl row over rowdy roosters could take flight right to court
A row over raucous roosters has rocked a rural community - and feathers could now fly in court.
The crowing birds are at the centre of a noise dispute between neighbours at Lisnamurrican near Broughshane in Co Antrim and both parties are threatening to move out of their rented homes if things don't go their way.
Tracy Gordon (40) lives at Rathkeel Road in a house adjoining properties where the Dowds family live. A hobby of some of the Dowds is showing fowl, with cockerels and hens kept in a coop at the back of the houses.
Ms Gordon says the roosters are too noisy and things kick off as early as 3.30am at some times of the year, meaning she and her family are deprived of sleep.
She says they are forced to wear earplugs in bed to drown out the sound of the crowing cockerels.
Ms Gordon complained to Ballymena Borough Council whose 'noise police' came out and after logs were kept and recordings made of the sound of the roosters, officers brought forward a Noise Abatement Notice.
A noise officer was in her home at 6am and during a one-hour monitoring period 206 crows were noted with crowing being heard during 46 out of the 60 minutes.
Officers have since tabled a report for a committee meeting recommending court proceedings are instigated regarding the ruckus made by the roosters.
Sandra Dowds (51) says she doesn't believe the roosters are very loud and says her own family have no problem sleeping.
Both families are threatening to leave their rented homes if things are not resolved to their satisfaction.
Ms Gordon says if the birds are not moved from close to her property she will have to consider leaving, while Mrs Dowds says the birds are a hobby for her two sons Johnny (25) and William (15) and says if anything was going to happen to the fowl they would rather move to stay with the animals.
Ms Gordon lives with her 12-year-old daughter Marion while another daughter Stephanie (20) is leaving home for university.
Her family has lived in the house for eight years and says it was a peaceful rural idyll until the Dowds moved in at the start of this year and brought their birds.
She said the roosters were noisy and started crowing all day long and continued making loud noise – just 20ft from her home – up to about 10pm some nights.
She said: "My dad is suffering from cancer and we would like him to come and live with us but you couldn't bring him to my house with the noise.
"The landlord offered to move the birds further down the land from the Dowds' house but they refused.
"The council told me this is the first Noise Abatement Notice they have served in five years."
The Dowds – Sandra, children Emily (18), Kristina (16), William, Johnny, Stephanie (24) and Johnny's 21-month-old daughter Taylor – live in two dwellings in a terrace of three on one side of Ms Gordon.
She said: "All my family can sleep okay, even wee Taylor. and none of my other neighbours have complained about it.
"It would break the boys' heart if they are separated from their birds and if the birds have to move we will move too to be with them.
"We intend to fight this. My boys are bird-lovers and don't want them taken away."
Johnny Dowds added: "The council asked us to seal up every gap around the doors in the coop to stop light getting in but then the birds would not be able to breathe."
Ballymena council collected evidence using noise monitoring equipment over several months. Council staff then reported to the owner of the cockerels to informally resolve the situation but a Noise Abatement Notice was served to no avail.
The report said: "Complainant log sheets detailed noise intrusion from as early as 4.30am that was continuing throughout the day into the evening.
"These log sheets highlighted the impact of the excessive cockerel crowing on day-to-day living, especially in relation to sleep disturbance."
Birds' owner's mother Sandra Dowds says:
“Regarding roosters crowing in the morning, that is what they do and this is the countryside after all. We don’t think they are very loud and they don’t do it for very long. If it really was noisy I wouldn’t like it. A rooster will crow a wee bit in the morning but that’s a thing you hear in the morning in the country.”
What Ballymena council says:
A report concluded: “The evidence collated clearly demonstrates the complainant has been subjected, over seven months, to a substantial and unreasonable interference with the right to the enjoyment of their property ie that a noise nuisance exists. Recommendation to council is that they approve the instigation of court proceedings in relation to the continuing non-compliance with the noise abatement notice.”
What neighbour Tracy Gordon says:
“This whole thing has been very frustrating. I suffer from depression and it has got worse because of this and I also have to take sleeping tablets to try to get to sleep. This is not like a neighbour making a bit of noise from a party every few weeks, this is every single day.”