Baldwin adopts ordinance for owning chickens
Baldwin Borough leaders want to ensure that chickens do not run afoul in the neighborhood.
Council members on Sept. 17 established parameters for residents who want to own the birds on their land.
The newly-adopted ordinance limits residents to having no more than four chickens on their residential property. Those that want chickens must have a minimum lot size of a half an acre, keep their chicken coop 30 feet from any building on an adjacent lot and provide three square feet of living space for each chicken in their coop.
A zoning permit is required to own chickens and residents can’t raise them to kill for food. No roosters are allowed.
“This is similar to a lot of other South Hills communities and what they already have in place,” borough Manager Bob Firek said. “It just defines it. We’re not prohibiting it.”
The creation of the ordinance was spurred by a request to Baldwin’s zoning hearing board earlier this year where a resident sought a variance to the borough’s code that would allow them to own six to eight chickens on their property, Firek said. The resident wanted to keep the birds as therapy chickens, borough leaders said.
The borough’s code “was not clear,” Firek said. “It just said, ‘No farm animals … ’ There was nothing definitive one way or another.”
While the borough’s zoning hearing board granted the resident the variance, they added a condition that if borough leaders ever passed an ordinance on chickens, the person would have to comply, Firek said. At the hearing, several other people attended to support the owning of chickens, saying they too wanted to keep them on their property, he said.
With one request already, they knew more likely were coming and they wanted rules to follow.
Members of the zoning hearing board approached borough leaders saying that Baldwin’s rules do not specify if and how chickens can reside in the borough.
Baldwin police also reported sightings of loose chickens running around the Glass Run Road area, Firek said.
Residents soon began approaching council members with concerns about their neighbor’s chickens, council President Ed Moeller said.
“They said, ‘We’re in a residential area. There’s a reason we bought here. We bought in a residential area on purpose,’” he said.
Other residents attended meetings indicated they were possibly interested in owning chickens and asked council members to tweak the ordinance to not require as much land for those wanting to own the birds, he said.
Borough council members asked the solicitor to draft an ordinance in July.
“It sets the rules for those types of things in a residential area,” Moeller said. “Because there weren’t any rules for them before.”
To craft the ordinance, Baldwin looked at what other communities had in place and also spoke with farmers, to ensure chickens were kept in a humane way, Firek said.
Borough leaders will contact the person who received the variance earlier this year, to ensure that they know about the new rules and comply, Firek said.
In the process of drafting this ordinance, a member of the zoning hearing board also asked council members to look at creating rules for unusual animals and beekeeping, Moeller said.
Council members plan to discuss that next to determine how they want to proceed.