Kennett Square officials allow residents to own chickens

Photo by Fran Maye Rusty Drumheller, Kennett Square zoning officer, talks to council about the new ordinance allowing chickens in the borough.

By FRAN MAYE

fmaye@21st-centurymedia.com

Kennett Square council Monday night adopted an ordinance amendment allowing property owners to keep a maximum of four chickens on their property, while banning roosters.

The action is in response to complaints earlier this year from residents that chickens were running wild in neighborhoods.

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“Hopefully, this is an ordinance that can satisfy everybody,” said Rusty Drumheller, zoning officer. “I think we came up with a pretty good ordinance.”

The new ordinance permits the ownership of chickens, hens, pheasants, turkeys, quail and guiney fowl. There must be at lease three sauare feet per fowl, and must be kept in an enclosed, outdoor shelter at night, cannot be on a property owner’s front yard and can be no closer than 15 feet to the property line.

Counselor Dan Maffei said chickens are permitted in cities like York, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Reading and even New York City.

Maffei wanted the ordinance to stipulate that only chickens be permitted, saying guiney fowl can be quite noisy. However, other counselors felt that residents had the right to own turkeys or quail since some people raise them for their eggs.

Fowl may not be slaughtered on residential property, unless permission is granted from the county health department. There had been instances of Kennett residents killing chickens on their property, and officials were powerless to stop it.

Drumheller, who raises chickens as a hobby, said a single chicken can lay about 300 eggs per year, and four chickens do not produce an unusual amount of manure.

There is a provision in the ordinance amendment that allows officials to remove fowl that become a nuisance to neighbors.

Robert Whiteside, who in February complained to council about the problem saying the chicken problem was “tearing this town apart,” said he was satisfied with the language in the ordinance, but he would have preferred if council only allowed turkey ownership for a few days before Thanksgiving.

John Thomas, former counselor, called the ordinance a nice compromise.

“I would surely hope that all council do as much research on all problems in this borough as you gave to chickens,” he said.

A resident of Scarlett Avenue told council she was happy that roosters were being banned from town because two of them wake her up every morning.

The ordinance was adopted with an amendment by council that heating sources may be used, not must be used. Chickens cannot lay eggs when the weather gets cold, but they can easily survive in sub-freezing temperatures.