Haver­ford to make egg-cep­tions for back­yard chick­ens

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Lois Puglionesi Times Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Bran­don Bates stands next to the chicken coop in the back yard of his Haver­ford home.

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