Chicken ordinance now up to North Huntingdon commissioners
After a tense hour-long debate, North Huntingdon Township's planning commission shot down a proposed backyard chicken ordinance Monday night.
But that doesn't mean the chicken ordinance has died.
Board members debated back and forth, picking through portions of the proposed ordinance, but it ultimately failed. Instead, the planning commission approved a recommendation to keep the current ordinance regulating chickens with a 5-2 vote.
Still, because the planning commission is an advisory committee, the township commissioners will make the final decision. That vote could come at its next meeting.
Virginia Stump and James McHugh cast the only votes against keeping the current ordinance and both expressed support for the new proposal.
“I really think there's some solutions here,” Stump said of the proposal. “I think we can come up with a win-win solution.”
Among her ideas, Stump proposed a one-year trial period for residents to keep two hens. Ultimately, board members argued it would be too hard to regulate and enforce when the period ended.
Stump then suggested amending portions of the ordinance to restrict backyard chickens to lots at least 20,000 square feet, up from the 7,500 square feet originally proposed. The motion failed.
Planning commission board member Bernard Solomon, said he had received more feedback in favor of keeping the current ordinance instead of allowing chickens on smaller lots.
“I'm not in favor of it,” he said. “I think that what we should do is stick with the ordinance that we have now.”
Joe Dykta, another board member who voted against the ordinance, expressed enforcement concerns.
“The first person to have a problem is going to call the police,” he said. “I'm sure our police have other things they'd much rather do than resolve a chicken dispute. We live in a residential community and we should try to maintain it. I'm against this.”
The proposed ordinance deals mainly with “nuisance issues,” said board member Stephen Cross.
“Ninety percent of this ordinance is dealing with the potential nuisance issues of something some folks are trying to bring into the township,” he said. “If we have to write an ordinance that deals with nothing but the nuisance factor, then that in itself should tell you something. I just don't see the value.”
Currently, only residents with at least 10 acres can have chickens in the township.
If approved by the township commissioners, the ordinance would allow residents with lots that are at least 7,500 square feet to keep up to four hens. Residents on larger lots could keep additional hens, but no more than eight.
Those residents would be required to obtain a poultry occupancy permit, which would help the township keep tabs on where hens live. The permits would be renewable every three years and cost $10.
Residents would be prohibited from selling eggs. Slaughtering would be allowed, but only indoors.
Hens would be restricted to henhouses and runs, which are enclosures for the animals made mostly of chicken wire. Those henhouses would be need to be on a concrete slab or up in the air and fenced in.
Henhouses could only be kept in rear yards, at least five feet from a property line and 40 feet from any residential dwelling.
Residents in violation of the ordinance could face fines up to $1,000 and have their hens seized by the township, according to the proposed ordinance.
Gayleen Fisher, of North Huntingdon, presented the planning commission with two petitions, about 120 signatures, from people against the ordinance.
“I am speaking for many, many residents of North Huntingdon,” she said. “We are just saying we don't want backyard chickens.”
She argued that allowing chickens would not be ideal for the community.
“Yes, chickens in the backyard was done 100 years ago,” she said. “One hundred years ago I believe everyone was reading by candlelight. It's been said raising chickens in the backyard is in vogue, but so are many other things in vogue today. But that doesn't mean they are right.”
Aaron McGregor, Nick Benevento and Rob Painter, all members of the digital group Norwin Poultry Society, also showed their support for the ordinance's approval Monday night.
The group presented a 50-signature petition to the township commissioners last week, and has vowed to continue efforts to recruit more signatures.
Township commissioners will vote on the ordinance at an upcoming meeting in September.
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Buffalo Township grandma pleads guilty to selling hundreds of pounds of weed
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Police: Gunfire in Canadian Parliament after soldier shot
- Rossi: Fleury is, and will remain, Penguins’ soul
- Peduto, Harris compromise on $1.6M for North Side community center
- Lawyer: Steelers center Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Woman accused of hitting Pittsburgh officer at PrideFest pleads guilty to harassment
- Police seize phones of some Norwin High School students
- Ross brothers ordered to pay fine, remove debris from Christmas display
- Officials seek help identifying witness to Port Authority bus crash
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control