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Resident wants to raise chickens in yard

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 11:30 a.m.

Jon Barker already has the garden, with fresh tomatoes and peppers, growing in the backyard of his Steiner Street home.

He and his partner, Amber Aughenbaugh, frequently order other fresh produce from a farmers alliance, which delivers the bags of groceries to his Penn Avenue office at Google.

Yet, the Baldwin Borough resident said he would prefer being able to do more on his suburban yard — including raising chickens and gathering the fresh eggs for breakfast.

“It's about eating organically and trying to be healthy,” said Aughenbaugh, 35, who has lived in Baldwin for seven years.

The Steiner Street residents approached Baldwin Borough Council on Tuesday asking them to consider adopting an ordinance similar to the one already in place in Pittsburgh, that would allow for keeping of chickens in the back yards of residential homes.

Baldwin Borough does not have regulations for chickens in residential backyards.

Many towns across the country are changing regulations to allow for residents to house chickens on their property.

Forest Hills Council is considering the adoption of an ordinance on June 19 that would permit, and regulate, residents to keep bees and chickens on their property.

The City of Pittsburgh also has rules in place for residents who wish to have chickens on their property.

However, not all towns are shifting in that direction.

Whitehall Borough last month updated a long-standing ordinance that reinstated the town's ban on residents owning chickens, bees and other livestock.

The ordinance also now prohibits residents from feeding and attracting wildlife to their property.

“I don't think that we're unique,” said Barker, 31, who has lived in the borough for six months. “Most of our produce is coming from Western Pennsylvania, why not have it coming from our own yard.”

The Steiner Street residents gave Baldwin officials a packet of information on Tuesday that included sample ordinances from other Pittsburgh-area towns that do allow chickens on residential properties.

It is important for towns that allow chickens and other livestock on residential properties to regulate how this is done, Barker said.

“We realize that if this gets passed into law, other people might go a little wild with it,” he said.

There are many benefits to having chickens in the backyard, Barker said. The purchase of the birds result in a quick payback, he said.

“Chickens take less than 50 square feet to raise and we have that,” Barker said. “And it's convenient.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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