Murrysville tasks planning commission for researching chicken regulations

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Folks in Murrysville who dream of cracking ultra-fresh homegrown eggs into their morning skillets soon might get their chance.

Murrysville Council asked its planning commission to come up with rules and regulations to help determine if they will allow its citizenry to raise their own chickens.

Officials are responding to a renewed interest in home animal husbandry by a segment of the population who want to know exactly what goes into the chicken that makes the egg.

“I'm hoping I could have five chickens to my 2 acres so I don't have to move to the city to have chickens,” said Murrysville resident Wanda Guthrie, addressing council with a smile.

Residents who don't own at least 10 acres are not permitted to raise chickens or any other types of poultry in the township, but that might soon change.

Across the country, officials are re-examining laws that prevent residents from raising chickens in their yards. Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago now allow their residents to raise a limited number of fowl, and North Huntingdon Township soon will join that list.

Murrysville Council and the planning commission will use North Huntingdon Township's ordinances as a starting point.

Council members have reservations about hatching a plan like that for Murrysville residents, so they gave its planning commission the task to research potential ordinances that could be used to manage this issue.

Guthrie wants to have absolute control over the diet of the chickens that will lay her eggs. She said she worries that the eggs from chicken farms near Marcellus shale fracking operations could be affected by industrial waste.

Raising chickens at home has blossomed into a cottage industry with an abundance of information and products — even chickens — available through the Internet.

Councilman David Perry suggested council members visit Penn State's agriculture site to get an idea just what kind of work goes into raising a small flock of chickens.

Exact rules governing coop placement in relation to property lines, coop sizes, the number of chickens that can be kept, and so much else must be hashed out by the planning commission before council begins to debate about a vote. There is no timeline when that will happen.

Bob Pajich is a freelance writer for the Trib Total Media.

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