Looking for Support to change the Ordinance in East Hopewell Township located in York County, PA


In the Brooder
5 Years
Aug 23, 2014
I am looking for some support and guidance to change the East Hopewell Township Ordinance in York County, PA. I own 2.89 acres and had chickens. After receiving a notice in the mail, I learned that there is an ordinance stating that you must have 5 acres to have chickens. I had to physically go to my township and pay $10 to get a copy of the ordinance because it’s not on a website for easy access (this is another item I will be addressing to the township). I had my chickens moved to a temporary home. I could not bear to lose them. I love my chickens and the eggs they provide my family.
About 80% of the township is agricultural. I am very baffled as to why you cannot have chickens on less than 5 acres. I know there are people in the city that are allowed to have chickens. I also learned you cannot have rabbits, ferrets or chinchillas according to the ordinance unless you have 5 acres or more. I am working on gathering information on other ordinances in the area and trying to come up with a reasonable proposal for a change.
I attended one of the township meetings to address the ordinance and to find out if there is a way to change it. There are three board members and one of them is very opposed to changing it unless I can get ½ of the people in the township to sign a petition (that’s just for his vote). The first thing I need to do is come up with a reasonable proposal to present to the board. The more support I have and input on a proposal, the more likely I will be able to make a change. After a reasonable proposal is made, I can start a petition if the board members oppose the proposal. I have spoken to several of my neighbors and they are on board, but I could use more help.
The current ordinance states the following:
East Hopewell Township Zoning Ordinance
LIVESTOCK – Any farm animal, such as cattle, donkeys, horses, mules, burrows, sheep, swine or goats, kept for agricultural use, commercial purposes or pleasure.
SMALL ANIMALS- Animals generally not considered as livestock, and also, excluding those animals normally referred to as domesticated household pets such as dogs and cats. Small animals include, but are not limited to, chinchillas, ferrets and rabbits.
SECTION 508 Keeping of Livestock, Small Animals and/or Poultry

  1. Such use shall be accessory and clearly incidental to the principal use of the property for residential purposes. Livestock, small animals or poultry shall be kept only as pets, for pleasure, or to provide food for the residents of the premises where the livestock, small animals or poultry are kept.
  2. Lot Area: Five (5) acres minimum.
  3. All livestock, small animals and poultry shall, except while pasturing, grazing, feeding or exercising, be housed in a separate, freestanding, permanent, four (4)-sided building erected and maintained for that purpose.
  4. The building required by Subsection c) above shall only be located in the rear yard; shall be set back at least fifty (50) feet from any property or street line; and shall be no closer than one hundred (100) feet to any existing residence on adjacent land.
  5. All pasture, grazing and exercise areas shall be securely fenced.
  6. All livestock, small animals and poultry wastes shall be properly stored and disposed of in a manner that will not create a public health hazard or nuisance. No livestock, small animal or poultry wastes shall be stored within the required setback areas.
If you have any advice or live in East Hopewell Township in York County PA, your comments are welcome.
Thank you!
Hello everyone,

To update everyone, I have not gotten very far with the proposal for the East Hopewell Township ordinance. I was really looking to get more input from people within the community. I hadn't received any responses on here until recently. Now that I see there is an interest out there, I will glady get back to work on the proposal. My schedule lately has been very busy. I should have some time this weekend to post some ideas for the proposal. Please feel free to post your thoughts.

One thing I've been stuck on with the proposal is whether we should address the livestock in the proposal in additional to poultry and small animals or just stick with poultry and small animals.

Just to clarify my thoughts...the current ordinance states no livestock, poultry or small animals (including rabbits, ferrets and chinchillas) if you have less than 5 acres.

I have 2.89 acres. I know there is plenty of space on my property to have goats (at least 2) and properly care for them. However, I am not considering goats right now, but what if I did in the future?

Also, what about roosters? How should they be addressed in the ordinance?

I heard the current ordinance was put in place after an issue with a horse on a 1 acre lot, who was not properly cared for. I can certainly understand trying to prevent issues like that, but they were very strict in the way the ordinance was written. They prohibited everything except cats and dogs. I am guessing they either didn't put much thought in the ordinance or they just didn't want to deal with it.

I do know there are many people in violation of the current ordinance. This is either because people do not know about the ordinance (like I didn't) or they choose to do it anyway, until someone makes a complaint. I don't think they go around enforcing the ordinance until someone reports it to the township.

I personally believe we should all have the right to produce our own food and be self-sufficient. I shouldn't have that right taken away just because I own less than 5 acres. As long as there is enough space, the animals are properly cared for, and the environment and the neighbors are considered, there shouldn't be an issue. The problem is that not everyone takes those in consideration, which is why an ordnance needs to be in place to keep a balance. The main question is what should be written to keep that balance.

Anyway, if anyone out there is reading this and you are interested in getting involved to help me fight for a change, please message me on here. Whenever we come up with an official proposal, it will go over better when there are several people supporting the proposal when we take it to the township meeting. I need to show there are many people in the community interested in changing this ordinance. I cannot fight this battle alone.
I don't live in Hopewell, but I do live in South Strabane and I am fighting the exact same battle, we also have to have 5 acres and 60% of land is agricultural. What's a girl to do? I started a petition, I will see how far I will get. I have been battling since November of 2014
I am new to this forum. I found this site today while researching for ideas to help change our city's ordinance to allow chickens. I am interested in what steps need to be taken to go about this as I have no clue about nor experience in city government. Would you or anyone else be willing to post a template of your petitions that could be used by others? I thought our local feed stores (IFA, Tractor Supply, Cal Ranch) might me excellent places to post those petitions and recruit other supporters. Does anyone have a petition they have used that they are willing to share?
Years ago, in response to a dog breeder who wasn't taking he best care of her dogs...the "animal limiters came to Ligonier Township and decided to try this limitation thing. I went to the meeting and so did the dairy farmers. It went like this. Our township is zoned for all USDA approved agricultural activities. Dog raising is an approved USD AG activity. The dairy farmers stood up and stated, if you try and pass this we will all be on your doorstep. The issue was promptly tabled and never revisited. Check your township rules. Which or all USDA Ag activities are you zoned for?

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom