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Pleasant Hills chicken limit questioned

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Sharon Bobich and her family are raising nine hens for their eggs in this chicken coop in their Pleasant Hills backyard.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:26 a.m.
 

A Pleasant Hills family may set the standard on raising chickens in the borough.

Sharon Bobich of Sequoia Drive spoke during a council meeting on Monday in response to a letter she received from code enforcement officer Timothy Rehak about violating an “unofficial ordinance” limiting six chickens per property. Her family has nine.

“He expressed that we needed to get rid of three of them or else we would be fined $500 a day,” Bobich said. “He said that he would waive that until this council meeting to see if we could get approval to keep the three additional (hens) that we have.”

She showed the letter to borough Solicitor Fred Jug Jr., and handed pictures of the family coop to council and other officials.

Jug said Rehak said he was concerned that the family could be selling eggs and other produce from their home.

Bobich said the family had not, and has no plans to sell anything. They also have no plans to increase the number of chickens on the property.

She said the hens are in a coop in a fenced-in yard. They use the hens for their eggs and give any extra to neighbors.

Bobich said she was told conflicting borough rules for raising chickens, ranging from being able to have an unlimited number of hens and no roosters, to the six-chicken limit being documented in meeting minutes.

“We looked at minutes from 2011, 2012 and 2013. We did not see anything in any of the minutes,” Bobich said.

It was determined that there is no official ordinance governing the number of chickens a resident may raise on a property, but a limit may have been discussed at a workshop meeting.

“As of now I can't see any ordinances or code violations that would require you to be fined,” council president Dan Soltesz told Bobich. “Council will discuss it.”

“I thought there was an official limit on six,” Councilman Joseph Esper said.

There are ordinances on the books outlawing fowl and other animals running at large, and requiring a permit for a chicken coop.

The family had a full presentation planned for Monday's meeting in case there were any questions, including their manure management plan and comparisons of fresh eggs versus store-bought eggs.

Bobich said after the meeting that several other families in the borough are raising chickens, and they were told about a six-hen limit.

She hopes council will consider a nine-chicken limit, or at least let them be grandfathered into any ordinance later adopted.

The matter is expected to be discussed at next month's meeting. An ordinance may be up for a vote in June.

Council accepted a $5,000 check from Baldwin EMS assistant chief Todd Plunkett. Plunkett said the money came from an anonymous donor, and it is to be used to benefit children through the EMS Safe Kids Program.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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