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Ducks dodge a bullet; Penn Hills man gets variance to keep his 'farm animals' at home

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, 1:45 p.m.
Louis Ammon with Slagathor, one of the four pet ducks he has had at his Penn Hills home for the last three years.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Louis Ammon with Slagathor, one of the four pet ducks he has had at his Penn Hills home for the last three years.

Slagathor, Mildred, Ida and Cora are no longer scofflaws.

The four ducks, who for years had been living outside the law in Louis Ammon's yard in Penn Hills, have been given clearance to stay put. Ammon on Wednesday received a variance from the Penn Hills Zoning Board allowing him to exceed the municipality's one-duck limit at his home on Boyd Boulevard.

Several neighbors showed up at the hearing in front of the board to testify as character witnesses for the fowl.

“They're not an issue,” said Daniel Casey. “I don't know why anybody raised an issue about the ducks. They make relatively no noise.”

Another neighbor, John Pfeifer, told the hearing board he never knew Ammon was keeping any ducks.

“He's always been a good neighbor. I don't see why he can't keep them,” Pifer said.

The reason was that Penn Hills code — which allows four chickens to be kept at a residential property — groups ducks in the farm animal category that includes goats and horses. The code requires at least 5 acres to keep more than one farm animal unless you are granted a variance.

Ammon — whose ducks are pets, egg providers and fertilizer producers for his organic garden — said he didn't know any of this until a neighbor whose land abuts his complained and he received a visit from the code enforcement officer.

Chris Peters, whose primary complaint about the ducks was that they attracted vermin to the neighborhood, was not at the hearing.

Ammon was relieved afterward because he didn't know what he would have done with three of his pets if the zoning board had held fast on its one-duck rule.

“I had no other place to take them,” he said. “My brother could have taken them in rural Ohio, but I was afraid they'd be eaten because they can't fly. And I didn't want to just drop them off at some park. That might have been illegal.

“So, yes, I'm very pleased with the board's decision.”

Dillon is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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