CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) — Tough news if you were hoping to raise chickens in Camp Hill.
Before a large crowd gathered Wednesday, Borough Council rejected a proposal to loosen its current ordinance, which disqualifies nearly every resident from owning live poultry.
The discussion began months ago, when would-be urban chicken hobbyists urged members of the council to consider changes, including an existing requirement that residents own roughly an acre of land in order to keep a coop on their property. Most lots in the densely populated borough are far below the acreage requirement.
“The Planning and Zoning Committee voted to recommend to Council, this body, that the ordinance regarding chickens as currently written not be changed,” Council President Peter Robelen said.
Chicken coop supporters argued that modern practices allow for the safe and sanitary maintenance of a backyard chicken flock. The growing hobby has become increasingly popular as many people seek the ability to harvest eggs while others consider the birds pets.
Kathleen Kadel, a borough resident who once raised chickens, says emotions and misinformation got in the way of real education about the hobby she insists is harmless.
“With the new systems that are available today for managing backyard flocks, there’s really no odor unless you’re doing something seriously wrong,” Kadel said.
In previous meetings of the Planning and Zoning Committee, tasked with making an educated recommendation to the council regarding the chicken ordinance, members of the community raised concerns about quality of life and health hazards. Some argued the presence of chicken feed inside the coops would draw rodents and other pests. Noise concerns were voiced but squashed early on when committee members insisted any revised ordinance would include a provision banning roosters.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control released findings of a report that links increased cases of salmonella infections in humans to the rapid growth of the backyard chicken hobby across the country.
Kadel says she hopes Camp Hill residents will eventually have the chance to decide the chicken coop issue with a referendum vote. Opponents including long-time borough resident Romayne McMahon believe the issue should be put to rest.
“If somebody wants to raise chickens, then they should move to a place that has more acreage,” McMahon said.