Changing zoning ordinance -- East Hempfield Township, Lancaster Country, PA

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by gbru, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. gbru

    gbru Hatching

    Jul 25, 2016
    Current zoning ordinance only allows chickens on property zoned Agricultural or Agricultural Holding (approximately 43% of the township, mostly farmland). I'm working on petitioning the Board of Supervisors to allow low density residential zones to raise a small flock of hens.

    I've perused the information available here (really enjoyed the study of 25 cities with backyard chicken allowances) and I've created a facebook group to organize the community.

    My plan is to use the site to draw attention to the issue and collect signatures for a petition. Once I reach a certain number of signatures, I'll forward the petition and a letter (based off of the successful letter posted here) to each Supervisor. At that point, I'm hoping the Board grants us some time at a monthly meeting to discuss. I've also reached out to a member of the local media who had previously written about backyard chickens.

    What else can/should I do to further the cause?
  2. gbru

    gbru Hatching

    Jul 25, 2016
    Here's the applicable section of the current zoning ordinance:

    QQ. Noncommercial keeping of livestock.
    (1) Within the A and AH Zones, noncommercial keeping of livestock is subject to the following criteria.
    (2) The following list specifies minimum area requirements by size of animals kept:
    a. Group 1: Animals whose average adult weight is less than 10 pounds shall be permitted at an animal density of 12 per acre, with a maximum number of 50 animals;
    b. Group 2: Animals whose average adult weight is between 10 and 65 pounds shall be permitted at an animal density of two per acre, with a maximum number of 20 animals; and
    c. Group 3: Animals whose average adult weight is greater than 65 pounds shall be permitted at an animal density of one per acre, with a maximum number of five animals.
    d. The keeping of a combination of animal types (Group 1, 2 and 3) shall require an animal density equal to the ratio of the number of animals, by type. In no case shall a lot contain more than 50 total animals. Should one structure be used to house a combination of animal types, the most restrictive setback shall apply.
    (3) The following lists minimum setbacks (from all property lines) imposed upon the placement of any structure used to house noncommercial livestock:
    a. Group 1 animals:
    i. Up to 25 animals, a twenty-five-foot setback;
    ii. Above 25 animals, a fifty-foot setback
    b. Group 2 animals:
    i. Up to two animals; a fifty-foot setback;
    ii. Above two animals; a one-hundred-foot setback.
    c. Group 3 animals.
    i. One hundred feet
    (4) All structures used to house noncommercial livestock shall be prohibited from placement in the front yard.
    (5) All outdoor pasture/recreation areas shall be enclosed with fencing to prevent the escape of the animals; such fencing must be set back at least 10 feet from all property lines.
    (6) All animal wastes shall be properly stored and disposed of, so as not to be objectionable at the site's property line. All animals, their housing, and their outdoor pasture/recreation areas shall be properly maintained so as not to become a nuisance to adjoining properties.

    Since the first point only specifies zones A (agricultural) and AH (agricultural holding), does this mean this section does not apply, from a legal standpoint? Would that argument (the ambiguity) then be cause to refer to the precedent set in the Illinois (I believe) case where a judge found that backyard chickens are incidental to residential use?
  3. gbru

    gbru Hatching

    Jul 25, 2016
    Not sure how to edit, but to add to the previous post:

    The zoning ordinance allows noncommercial keeping of livestock in zones A and AH (listed in the article that defines each zone). It does not list noncommercial livestock as being incidental to low density residential. Does this change anything?
  4. carol0622

    carol0622 Chirping

    Apr 2, 2016
    Hi! I'm currently in Shillington, moving because I can't keep my chickens here and found a home in East Hempfield township. What is the min amount of land needed for chickens ?
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    so make your flock a commercial one. Sell chicks retail. I don't think you need a license to sell retail to the public. Also find out if chickens are considered livestock. Plus check and see if your country is rated fro all forms of USDA animal breeding. see if chickens are included. I think they are. these regs read like the animal rights folk got in there while people weren't watching and got these silly animal limits and set back regs into the books. Any time you see these silly set back regs, you can probably figure it was the animal rights folk who did it. If your country is rated for all forms of USDA animal breeding, See if that trumps the local laws you have. Also contact the big dairy farmers ( pay lots of taxes) and let them know about this. See if you can get them to come to the zoning meeting and weigh in on this. The last thing agricultural counties want is their big producers mad at them.
    Ligonier, PA

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: