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Chickens could be welcome in Murrysville back yards

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Hens could soon be welcome in backyards across Murrysville.

Council, which occasionally receives requests for domestic chickens, has asked the municipal planning commission to review zoning ordinance changes necessary for the chickens.

Currently, only property owners with more than 10 acres can have chickens.

Requests have been coming in for the last two years, but amped up in light of neighboring North Huntingdon's domestic chicken proposal, said Jim Morrison, chief administrator.

“There's health benefits,” Morrison said. “And I think the organic reasons are part of the motivation.”

The planning commission will review the acceptable number of chickens, size of property lots and type of chickens permitted, among other things, Morrison said.

For example, it's possible to allow turkeys, but most municipalities restrict roosters because they crow.

And loose chickens would be a concern, so specific types of hen houses will be reviewed, Morrison said.

Morrison offered council a draft version of the proposal North Huntingdon commissioners are considering. That proposal would limit four hens to people with at least 7,500 square feet. Up to two additional hens would be permitted for every 1,500 feet.

Hens there would be for personal use only; property owners would not be permitted to sell eggs or fertilizer or breed the hens.

There are parts of that proposal that Morrison said he liked. Any drafted proposal for Murrysville would reflect what council wants to protect, he said.

“You can't just think of the people who want the chicken,” Morrison said. “They have neighbors. We have to make sure that all are protected.”

Amanda Dolasinski is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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