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Washington Township counts chickens on fowl proposal

April 10, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors are considering changing their regulations and allowing backyard chickens in a residential zone after some residents squawked about the birds being prohibited.

Supervisor Elaine Gladhill said she plans to meet Saturday with proponents of allowing backyard chickens in R1 (low-density residential) zones.

“I think maybe it’s something we should look at with conditions,” Gladhill said at Wednesday’s supervisors meeting.

Chickens currently are prohibited in residential zones under local zoning laws.

The supervisors looked at a sample ordinance from another municipality during their meeting. That municipality in the State College, Pa., area allows four hens and no roosters if the animals are kept in a coop with a roof. The chickens must be kept 30 feet from property lines.

“One dog or one cat would be more of a nuisance than that,” said Jeff Geesaman, chairman of the supervisors.

Gladhill said she would support allowing up to 10 hens and no roosters per property.

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The supervisors also obtained a copy of the livestock ordinance from the borough of Waynesboro, which is surrounded by Washington Township.

The borough’s livestock ordinance from June 1970 is one of the more interesting laws on its books. That ordinance not only permits keeping a burro in the borough, it also says police officers must seize any animal found running at large. The list of animals to be seized includes livestock and poultry.

Under the borough ordinance, the chief of police then is tasked with ensuring a detained animal is properly kept and fed for up to 10 days as its owner is notified. The owner faces a $5 penalty, plus “expenses incurred by reason of its detention.”

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