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By Peter Douglas

Upwey resident Garry Jones is urging Yarra Ranges Council to consider significantly tightening limitations on the number of pet birds that can be kept on any single property.
As the consultation period for council’s local laws review finishes, Mr Jones said council needed to take note of nearby councils such as Knox, Monash and Maroondah, which all have much stricter guidelines in this area.
Monash laws specify only 10 birds can be kept on any single property, with Maroondah 20.
Knox only permits five large birds, with pigeons falling into that category.
In Yarra Ranges, no permit is required for any number less than, or up to, 100 birds.
Mr Jones said he submitted his suggestion as part of the review, while also recently objecting to a proposal from a neighbour seeking to construct three pigeon lofts at a residence in Hughes Street, Upwey.
Mr Jones was one of 39 objectors to the proposal, which council deferred at its Tuesday 24 October meeting, citing a lack of information.
He said as many as 80 pigeons were at the Hughes Street address, with the lofts potentially taking that number to 140 birds.
“Compared with most, if not all other Melbourne councils, which have stringent limits on bird numbers, Yarra Ranges does not have limits on birds in its local laws,” Mr Jones said.
“We have put in a submission online to the local laws review … but this is important enough that all local residents should be made aware of it and urged to raise it with their councillor, so that it does not disappear into the bureaucracy and their too-hard basket.”
Mr Jones noted that Yarra Ranges Council placed more defined limitations on dogs and cats (two each) and prohibited other species of ‘noisy birds’.
“Other councils take a variety of approaches, with a distinction between large and small birds, and, in the case of Monash and some others, between racing pigeons (quite small) and other pigeons (much larger),” he said.
“It would be to most people’s benefit if the provisions in the Monash local law were cut and pasted into the Yarra Ranges local law.”
Speaking at the October council meeting, Mr Jones joined fellow neighbour Susan Sypkens in expressing that the pigeon loft proposal was inappropriate for the neighbourhood.
Their issues included odour, and the potential for increased vermin and risk of psittacosis, a potentially fatal bacteria passed on to humans from birds.
“For some months, I’ve been enduring increasing unpleasant fecal odours from eight or more pigeons currently kept in makeshift sheds,” Ms Sypkens told council.
“When wind blows from that direction, it means I can’t even open windows on the affected side of my house. There’s also a risk of pulmonary disease for me and my young grandchildren.
“This is intensive poultry farming, not just hobby pets. If this application is approved, it sets a precedent to keep a large number of livestock in residential zones.”
However, applicant Chris Shannon maintained smells were not the issue.
“Personally, I don’t believe there’s an odour. If anyone wants to come around and have a look, a smell … there’s no odour,” he told council.

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