Edwin Alexanderian inside one of his pigeon coops in the backyard of his Brookline home in 2009. Photo by Brock Parker
When Brookline ordered him to get rid of his pet pigeons last year, Edwin Alexanderian begrudgingly dismantled two coops in his backyard and took about 100 of the birds up to New Hampshire to release them.
Within days, Alexanderian, who is president of Brookline’s Town Meeting Members Association, said the pigeons had found their way back to his home at 945 Hammond St. in Chestnut Hill.
Now the birds are ruffling feathers of neighbors who say hundreds of pigeons are defecating on their rooftops, porches and patios and they have complained to Brookline’s Health Department, which is now pressing criminal nuisance charges against Alexanderian.
“The poor neighbors have been suffering,” said Pat Maloney, Brookline’s chief environmental health inspector.
Maloney said Brookline’s Health Department has filed charges against Alexanderian for failure to eliminate a public health nuisance, maintaining dwelling that is a nuisance and keeping pigeons without a permit.
Alexanderian, who is 50 years old, is due in Brookline District Court next Wednesday, Aug. 24, to be arraigned on the charges.
“Of course I’m not guilty,” Alexanderian said in a telephone interview this week. “I don’t have any pigeons. I got rid of the coops.”
A native of Iran, Alexanderian said pigeons are considered pets in his homeland and he had coops at his Brookline home for pigeons he nursed back to health after they had been injured or poisoned in urban areas.
But town officials said Alexanderian never had the proper permits to keep pigeons in his residential neighborhood and he was cited for never obtaining the special permits he needed to build the coops in his backyard. In January of last year, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals also rejected Alexanderian’s request for a variance that would have allowed him to keep the coops.
He then got rid of the coops, but Alexanderian said when he released the pigeons they returned to his house because they believe it is their home. When the pigeons returned, they brought other birds with them, he said.
But the pigeons don’t just flock to Alexanderian’s home.
Maggie Noel, a 39-year-old resident on the neighboring Hammond Pond Parkway, said since around the fall of last year hundreds of pigeons have been perching on the rooftop of her home or those of her neighbors almost every day.
“It’s a nightmare,” Noel said. “There is excrement everywhere. I was calling the town all of the time.”
Noel said she believes Alexanderian has been feeding the birds and she said if he wants to keep pigeons for pets he shouldn’t do it in a residential area.
“That is not fair,” she said. “That is not a nice thing to do.”
Alexanderian said there is no law against feeding birds, but he said he is not feeding the pigeons—they are simply eating the organic fertilizer he uses for his lawn.
Maloney said health officials will be pushing to force Alexanderian into trapping the birds and releasing them elsewhere.
But Alexanderian said even if he traps the birds they will still return to his house because they believe it is home. He said the charges against him are “a wild goose chase” that the town is pursuing because he plans to run for a seat on the Brookline Board of Selectmen.
Alexanderian said he will not be pushed around.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “My skin is like a rhinoceros.”