Thursday, May 9, 2013

Easton City Council to Consider Legalizing Backyard Chickens

By Christina Georgiou

College Hill resident Annie Porter addresses Easton City
Council Wedenesday evening to request an ordinance
change to allow the keeping of up to six chicken hens
by city residents for personal use.
 At the request of a College Hill resident and her family Wednesday evening, Easton officials will consider the possibility of legalizing the keeping of chickens within city limits.

Annie Porter, who lives with her husband and daughter on Pennsylvania Avenue, suggested city ordinances be changed to allow small, penned flocks of no more than six chickens--hens only--to be kept by residents for their non-commercial, personal use.

"A small flock of hens can keep a family in eggs indefinitely," she said, citing the educational and sustainability value of the practice.

Porter, whose family already keeps bees, said if allowed, she has no plans to eat the chickens.

"They'd be more like pets," she said. "We just want fresh eggs."

City health ordinances and laws pertaining to the keeping of caged animals and their welfare are quite specific, Porter noted. She said she thinks changing the law to allow chickens would be relatively easy, since there are already numerous rules in place that would regulate the practice and keep neighbors from being disturbed. High standards would ensure the birds would be healthy and disease-free, she added.

"They'd have to be penned, or they'd be eaten by hawks and such," noted Porter's husband, Sam Cousins.

"I hope the city council will consider making a change to the ordinance," Porter said.

Mayor Sal Panto said the matter will be discussed and looked into by the city council's health and planning committees, probably next month.

If they find the idea is sound, a change to the ordinance could happen in the next few months, he said.

The keeping of chickens in Easton's city backyards has a long history, and was only outlawed about five years ago, after a few residents neighboring another College Hill property that kept both hens and a rooster complained about the noise generated by the male chicken.

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