Washington Township supervisors say no to zoning change that would allow chickens

June 03, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Washington Township, Pa., supervisors on Monday quashed changes that would have allowed chickens to be kept in low-density residential zones. 

The supervisors unanimously decided to halt efforts to allow chickens on R1 properties. However, they still intend to continue with an initiative to allow hens in forest conservation zones.

Supervisor Dick McCracken made a motion to rescind action taken May 20, saying he was confused by what the earlier vote meant.

Chickens are currently prohibited in R1 zones, but the earlier vote had authorized staff to prepare legal documents to start allowing them.

“What we’re saying is we’re not going to change the current R1 zoning as it stands, which has prohibited chickens for 40 years,” said Jeff Geesaman, chairman of the supervisors.

“Some people think we’re taking away the rights of chicken owners, but there never were those rights,” Supervisor Stephen Kulla said.

Supervisor Elaine Gladhill thanked McCracken for voicing his concerns before time and money were spent developing zoning amendments.

In two months, the supervisors are expected to take a final vote on allowing chickens in forest conservation zones. Those residents would be required to have at least 2 acres of land and eight or fewer hens in a backyard coop.

The potential changes to the forest conservation zoning regulations will be the subject of a public hearing before they can be fully adopted.

The township’s proposal includes a provision that a neighbor’s complaint during a potential chicken owner’s permit application process could nullify the application.

Gladhill initially brought up the backyard chickens issue after saying she received requests to allow the activity. Since then, the supervisors have heard from residents on both sides of the issue.

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