State College

College Township Council rejects chicken ordinance

The moment of truth came on the so-called “chicken ordinance” in College Township.

The motion to adopt the ordinance failed in a 3-2 vote at the College Township Council meeting Thursday night.

The ordnance up for debate would have allowed township residents in a single family home to have up to four chickens on their property under certain guidelines.

Two public hearings, in July and August, were held — each time council sending the ordinance back for amendments.

Concerns about the sights, sounds and smells associated with the animal were the main concerns of those who were against the ordinance. To counter the concerns, supporters said noise concerns are minimal, and chickens could provide a benefit to the community.

“We have a tick problem in Lemont,” said resident Sue Smith. “Chickens help with that.”

But the majority of the council didn’t buy it.

Councilman Lynn Herman was one of the three votes against it, the others being Rich Francke and Chairman Eric Bernier. Councilwomen Mary Shoemaker and Carla Stilson were in favor.

“I found nothing in this ordinance for a violation that would warrant a $600 fine,” Herman said about a part of the draft. “It’s unjust and unfair.”

The proposal called for a three-tier civil fine against anyone who violated the terms of the ordinance. It included a $25 fine for the first violation, a $50 for the second offense and a $600 fine for the third.

Senior planner Mark Holdren said that was the same fines as local cat and dog laws.

“I don’t agree with that jump in fine for those either,” Herman said about the other pet laws.

Herman said a third offense fine of $100 would be more acceptable.

Five community members addressed the council with only one speaking against it.

Puddintown Road resident Scott Stilson questioned how having chickens would affect residents’ quality of life.

“I believe we have the most robust chicken ordinance in the region,” he said.

Holdren said the proposal included rules that would have limited chicken “clucks, squawks and other chicken sounds,” prohibited owners from slaughtering the animal, and allowing the chicken to have a proper coop and roaming area that would be no closer than 40 feet from a neighbor’s home. The chickens would have also been restricted to the residents’ backyard.

It also addressed sanitary requirements.

But Julian Drive resident Melanie Fink said she sees six other neighbors’ backyards from her home, and would rather live among neighbors than chickens.

“If that happens, then I’ll be living with the chickens,” she said.

Her main concerns were noise, smell and sight.

Township Manager Adam Brumbaugh said the issue would likely not be back up for debate in the near future.

“As far as a further direction it should go, at this point it would either need to be brought up either by a member of council or through some action or letter from a member of the public,” Brumbaugh said. “Without any further discussion, at this moment it’s off the table.”

Smith said that in her Lemont neighborhood, there are about 30 chickens. She said that despite the ordinance not passing, she doesn’t think it will stop residents from keeping chickens on their property.

The council didn’t say what would happen with residents who already own chickens.

Had the ordinance passed, the law would have applied for every resident in the township. However, those who lived within a homeowners association could have been protected by their HOA, based on its rules, Bernier said.