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Carroll Valley drafts chicken ordinance

Danielle Ryan

(4/18) The Carroll Valley Planning Commission discussed the Chicken Ordinance during their April meeting. Back in October, the Borough Council requested the ordinance be reviewed by the Planning Commission, after talk of chickens became a hot topic during the meeting. This topic has been discussed several times in the past, and Borough Manager Dave Hazlett noted that there are residents that stand on both sides of the issue, and are very passionate about their views.

During the Planning Commission meeting, several members of the community came forward and spoke in favor of having backyard chickens. No members attended the meeting who were not in favor of chickens, but Hazlett has received numerous calls indicating a near 50/50 split among residents. After hearing public comment, the Commission discussed the pros and cons for chickens in the Borough. Some pros were: resident’s desire for self-reliance on eggs, meaning having the knowledge of where they come from and how the chickens that produce them are treated. Another plus side is if well kept, chickens aren’t overly messy and don’t produce too much of an odor. However, on the flipside, chickens can be noisy, they can be smelly if not cared for properly, there are deed restrictions and some residents may not enjoy the sight of a chicken pen/coop in their neighbor’s backyard.

As the current ordinance stands, residents must be living in an agriculturally zoned area in order to own livestock, which includes chickens and other poultry. If a resident lives outside the Agricultural District, in a residentially zoned area, and owns livestock or poultry, they are susceptible to a penalty. There is also a deed restriction on many properties in the Borough that do not allow poultry. As the Planning Commission discussed, allowing chickens in lieu of this restriction may create distress within the community, potentially causing residents to take their neighbors to civil court if they were displeased with the presence of chickens on a neighboring property.

However, the Commission also mentioned that there are deed restrictions for items such as clotheslines, sheds, and out-of-home businesses, but the Borough allows these on properties. How different would it be to allow chickens?

The Planning Commission voted to not allow chickens, but the vote failed. The Commission asked the Borough’s Solicitor and Borough staff to draft an ordinance permitting the use of residential backyard chickens to be brought back to the next Planning Commission meeting in May. 

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