Loveable Leroy to fowl local laws?

Shelbee Sonter, 8, with Leroy, whose future is in question due to a complaining neighbour. Mum Bianca says as far as she is concerned, she lives on acreage and can keep a rooster.
Shelbee Sonter, 8, with Leroy, whose future is in question due to a complaining neighbour. Mum Bianca says as far as she is concerned, she lives on acreage and can keep a rooster.

WHAT'S going to happen to Leroy the rooster?

The cock enjoys his life as king of the roost at the Sonter family's three-acre Edgewood property.

More than just a rooster, he's a much-loved pet for eight-year-old Shelbee who insisted "he's part of the family".

For three years Leroy had never posed a problem for the rural residential Edgewood Estate, until recently, when a Central Highlands Regional Council worker came knocking with a complaint.

"When I told the council that I lived on three acres I was told not to worry as I was allowed to have a rooster as I lived on more than 4000sq m (an acre)," Bianca Sonter said.

"Then last week the council returned with the same person complaining, saying that I would not be allowed to keep him, that I required a permit. I was told that our semi-rural land was going to be classed as residential as from January next year.

"I said to council that I would go and get him a permit but was told not to bother since a complaint had been made against Leroy and the council would not issue me with a permit."

She said it would break both her and her daughter's heart having to get rid of Leroy. Her daughter spends hours on end with her favourite pet each afternoon after school. His pecks, she called love bites.

"As a parent, how am I supposed to explain to my eight-year-old daughter that we may have to get rid of her pet?" Mrs Sonter said.

CHRC mayor Peter Maguire said there were no plans to reclassify Edgewood, but after some investigation, said under local law any rural residential property of more than one acre is allowed to keep a rooster, but must have a permit.

Edgewood consists of one, three and 80-acre blocks. Cr Maguire said the one and three-acre blocks were rural residential, and the 80-acre blocks were rural.

"Unfortunately we are required to follow up every complaint, and according to current local law, she is required to make an application to keep a rooster," Cr Maguire said.

Mrs Sonter was furious that the actions of a neighbour may have effectively sealed Leroy's fate.

"I am disappointed that the person who made the complaint didn't come see me as now my chances of getting him a permit are basically zero… it's just common courtesy," she said.

"It's part of living on acreage, you expect to see kids on motorbikes, people riding horses, all those kinds of things you don't and can't do on a city block.

"That's why we moved out here, to have the freedom of living on acreage. And Leroy is not the only rooster in Edgewood.

"I don't understand how a person can think one rooster makes more noise than the 24-hour noise from the cotton gin that backs onto our place? Do they complain about that, or the flight path of the airport?

"It goes beyond just having a rooster that does what comes naturally and crow - it's teaching our kids respect and kindness to animals."

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