State College

Residential poultry heads to the final stage

A rule allowing “domestic chickens” will soon be coming to a vote following a successful motion to advertise the ordinance for a future meeting.

The Board of Supervisors added some final amendments to the rule Monday prior to the vote following several recommended staff changes. Extensive discussions of the ordinance on June 6 prevented an advertisement vote as supervisors felt the ordinance needed some final adjustments.

According to the ordinance, a zoning permit and fee will be required for residents wishing to keep chickens. Residents may keep a maximum number of hens only — no roosters.

Henhouses, chicken coops, pens and runs must be combined as a single unit totaling a maximum of 144 square feet, the ordinance said. These units are allowed in both side and rear yards — no front yards — and cannot be placed within 10 feet of rear or side property lines.

Slaughtering or butchering of chickens for personal consumption is permitted, the ordinance said, but must be conducted in an indoor location. Commercial slaughtering is prohibited.

Supervisor Rita Graef pointed out that chicken tractors — mobile pens — should not be included with the rule that coops and pens must be included as a unit. An amendment allowing the mobility of the tractors was added to the ordinance.

Supervisor Laura Dininni expressed concern that there was no regulation on providing information to prospective chicken-keepers, pointing out that backyard poultry has been linked to some sicknesses by people who may not be familiar with the handling of chickens. She proposed that an amendment be added that information be distributed to those applying for the permit as a way of keeping the public informed.

“In some city ordinances, they have you take a whole course on keeping chickens,” Dininni said. “We wouldn’t be putting ourselves in jeopardy by requiring a CDC publication.”

Fellow supervisors were hesitant to include such a provision, pointing out that there are virtually no other animals in the township requiring additional information. Supervisors further argued that including such information would be akin to endorsing a particular source, something they felt they were in no position to do.

“You can have an alligator (in the township) and not have any required education about that thing at all,” Vice Chairman Peter Buckland said. “I don’t want to get into the business of picking and choosing.”

The amendment failed 1-4.

A second amendment proposal by Dininni requiring annual re-permitting with a smaller fee also failed to gain support.

The motion to advertise the amendment for a future meeting passed 4-1, with Dininni voting against.

“My vote doesn’t mean I don’t want backyard chickens,” she said. “I just feel the board hasn’t deliberated properly.”

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews