Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Blairstown Chicken Changes Put on Hold

It’s good to be a chicken in Blairstown, as the township Land Use Board is expected to review what are considered to be, in some cases, “unreasonable” requirements, such as mandating two acres to own one bird.

The changes, however, originally proposed as part of the Backyard Chicken Ordinance, will be proposed as an amendment to the township Master Plan, rather that a new ordinance, which could require extensive and expensive notification procedures, Land Use Board attorney Roger Thomas said. Adopting it as part of a Master Plan revision is a much simpler process, Thomas said.

Among the changes in the ordinance proposed at the Land Use Board’s February meeting, when the measure was introduced, roosters would be restricted in VN or VR zones, which include most of the Village area of Blairstown. In residential zones of five acres or more, roosters would be permitted. Farms would still be permitted to have roosters.

At the February meeting, Land Use Board member Charles Makatura said he did not think roosters should be subject to a blanket prohibition, pointing out that many people came to Blairstown knowing it was a rural community. He said roosters mostly cause problems in densely populated areas and agreed that they should be restricted from the village area.

While revising the minimum area for chickens to one-quarter acre was considered, it was pointed out that the existing set-back requirements, generally 100 feet from the property line, would make having chickens impractical. Currently, the two-acre minimum is the standard, and this also applies to other non-household animals such as ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, pigeons, pheasants, quail, rabbits and other small animals, the attorney, said.

The changes, if adopted, would likely include requirements for animal feed to be kept in tightly closed metal or plastic containers. There has been concern in the Village area that feed containers could attract vermin. The area already has a problem with feral cats dining in the dumpsters.

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