AYER -- Ayer is fast becoming the home of many would-be chicken owners.

The town's Board of Health recently reviewed three applications for animal permits, approving one, and making the second contingent upon approval by the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health. The third permit request was incomplete.

The first request the board reviewed Monday night was from the Nguyen/Hartkopf property at 72 Snake Hill Road. The owners already have approval from the Conservation Commission, which required them to build a berm around the wetlands area of the property.

The property owners have since submitted the plans for a chicken coop, which, according to their initial application, would hold up to 10 chickens.

BOH Chairman Heather Hasz said she was duly impressed with the plans for the coop, which she described as "quite an elaborate structure."

"It looks like a kid's play set," commented BOH member Mary Spinner.

With the initial plan for 10 chickens, BOH member Pamela Papineau questioned the plan for the coop, which appeared, according to the plan, to be suitable for only three to five.

"It looks like a nice coop. It's just an issue of how many he should have in there," she said.

However, after Spinner noted that the property has a fenced backyard, the berm to protect the wetlands has been built, and the closest neighbors are 100 feet away, she made a motion to approve the permit for 10 chickens. It was approved unanimously.


The second animal permit request was for six chickens and three Bantams at the Starsky property, at 20 Shirley St. Although NABH Health Agent Bridgette Braley has seen the property, the final plan for the coop had just been submitted. Therefore, the BOH voted to approve the permit contingent upon Braley's final approval.

A third permit request has been made for 29 High St., but with everything submitted to the BOH except for the chicken coop plan, that request was deferred until the plan is received and reviewed by the NABH.

Body Art Practitioner

Thomas J. Gustainis, an apprentice with Trophy Life Tattoo Co., 32 Main St., has requested a body art practitioner license from the BOH. According to his application, he has been working as a student apprentice for Trophy Life owner Chris Dyson for the past 18 months.

According to the Mass. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, a local Board of Health issuing body art practitioner licenses may consider experience, training and/or certification acquired in other states that regulate body art.

The training should include a bloodborne pathogen training program that includes infectious disease control; waste disposal; hand-washing techniques; sterilization equipment operation and methods; and sanitization, disinfection and sterilization methods and techniques, plus first aid and CPR.

Examples of courses approved by the board include "Preventing Disease Transmission" (American Red Cross) and "Bloodborne Pathogen Training" (OSHA.) Training/courses provided by professional body art organizations or associations or by equipment manufacturers may also be submitted to the board for approval.

The applicant for a tattoo practitioner permit must provide documentation, acceptable to the board, that s/he completed a course or examination on skin diseases, disorders and conditions, including diabetes, or possesses a combination of training and experience deemed acceptable to the board. A practitioner of body piercing may also be required to have taken a college-level anatomy and physiology class.

Spinner said that one of the things that has been bothering her is that the applicant has already been practicing for the past 18 months. It is her understanding, she said, that Dyson is the holder of the license, and that the request is for an individual license for Gustainis.

"I have a problem with the whole thing, because other people have had individual licenses and no one has said that they have a student working for them," she said.

Papineau said she is unsure if an Introduction to Biology I course, within the confines of a liberal arts program, meets the standard of an anatomy course, but later conceded that such a course may not be required if the practitioner does not do body piercing. 

"We are looking at protecting the public health," summarized Hasz. "We need to look at whether he has been practicing without a license. We don't really know the scope of his tutelage and if the regulations allow for (an internship or apprenticeship)."

Spinner said she was more concerned with what Dyson is doing in terms of his license.

Ultimately, the board moved to request that both Dyson and Gustainis attend the next BOH meeting. Its approval of Gustainis' request remains pending until after their appearance.