Haverford to make egg-ceptions for backyard chickens
HAVERFORD » Backyard chicken enthusiasts had something to crow about after commissioners took the first step last week toward legalizing backyard hen keeping townshipwide. The board voted 6-2 in favor of amending animal regulations to allow up to four hens on properties less than 1 acre, subject to additional regulations.
The vote followed lengthy debate and an unsuccessful attempt to table due to revisions commissioners made during the course of discussion. Those in favor of moving forward said the matter would be taken up again at the Oct. 2 work session, before a second and final reading on Oct. 10.
Highlights of the ordinance allow residents to maintain up to four chickens “as pets for the non-commercial production of eggs” on properties smaller than an acre. The current 1-acre requirement excludes a majority of Haverford residents, supporters said.
Additionally, a prior setback requirement for chicken coops and pens was reduced to 20 feet from any dwelling or property line.
Further provisions retain a prohibition on roosters established in 2013, and include measures concerning noise and odor control, cleanliness, and waste removal.
Commissioners deleted a provision in the original draft that would have allowed exceptions from a 25-foot setback with written agreement from adjacent property owners after Commissioner William Wechsler pointed to potential legal issues.
Speaking at public forum, backyard hen keeper Brandon Bates of Havertown thanked commissioners.
“I think you have done a good job listening, researching and trying to come up with something that works for everybody,” Bates said.
Bates had appealed to commissioners after receiving a fine and citation in June calling for him to remove a flock of seven hens from his onethird acre property. Bates said the hens provide fresh eggs, in addition to educational opportunities and enjoyment for his family and neighbors. Hens are no different than any other outdoor pet, he argued.
Commissioner Larry Holmes indicated that regardless of the final outcome, Bates would be permitted to keep his hens.
“Nobody is tearing down somebody’s coop and getting rid of their chickens,” Holmes said.
Two Havertown teens and wannabe hen keepers, Sammy Darling and Anne McCammon, presented a petition in June signed by 380 residents supporting backyard chickens. In addition to providing eggs, hens eat weeds, table scraps and insects, including ticks, they said.
“We’re very excited that you have considered this issue and drafted an ordinance you’re voting on tonight,” said Darling.
“We wanted to make a difference in our community … We want to promote humane and healthy ways of raising hens.”
Voting against the ordinance, Commissioner Dan Siegel said he’d received negative feedback from many Fourth Ward residents. Some raised concerns about salmonella issues, Siegel said.
Mike Levin, a resident, cautioned against attracting mosquitoes.
In other meeting highlights, commissioners authorized a two-month extension and $30,000 payment to Reynolds Construction Inc. for construction management services related to the township’s new municipal services building. Delays have pushed the substantial completion date to early December.
The board further authorized the Haverford Township Free Library Board of Trustees to proceed with the planning process for library renovations, which had been put on hold in February. The library board will provide regularly scheduled updates to commissioners. Library board president Phil Goldsmith said the board hopes to begin construction by late August 2018.
Also approved was first reading of an amendment to park regulations that will prohibit parties and gatherings of more than 15 persons without a permit.
The board adopted the first reading of an ordinance to renew and continue the Radnor-Haverford-Marple Sewer Authority, and also approved dedication of Brittany Lane in Bryn Mawr as public land.
Brandon Bates stands next to the chicken coop in the back yard of his Haverford home.