RICHLAND - A Richland resident on Tuesday night asked Borough Council why she is not permitted to house chickens in her yard.Bevan Allen, a North Race Street property owner, asked council to consider reviewing the section of the zoning ordinance pertaining to animal housing and possessing animals.
Allen said she requested a permit from the Lebanon County Planning Department to house chickens in her yard, but her request was denied.
She distributed information to council members about the advantages and safety of raising chickens in a small-scale residential situation and pointed out that Gregory Martin, a poultry agent in the southeast region of the Penn State Extension Service, supports her desire to raise chickens.
Allen said her grandfather worked for College Hill Poultry in 1941 and continued to work in the chicken business. She said she keeps her six chickens for the eggs they lay.
Councilman Larry Hartman pointed out it is not this council that enacted the ordinance governing animals.
"That was on the books when I moved here 40 years ago," he said, adding that the ordinance has some gray areas.
"I've served as solicitor for Richland for 40 years," solicitor Tom Harlan added. "This ordinance went into place in the 1970s, and this is the first time I have heard anyone talk about chickens."
Allen questioned why some residents are permitted to have rabbit hutches in their yards: "What is the difference between keeping rabbits and keeping chickens?"
Harlan explained that the final decision comes from the county planners on zoning enforcement, and if a resident does not agree with the decision, there are provisions to appeal.
Allen said the county planners told her if she keeps her chickens in her basement, their presence no longer is a matter to be decided by the county, so she said that is what she intends to do.