Hens in West Chester: Why not?

A few months ago I happened to be at a Borough Council meeting where permitting hens in the Borough was discussed. The measure got sent to committee for further talk and elaboration.

I see hens are on the PZBID committee’s agenda tomorrow eve, Tue. Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m., in Borough Hall:

“3. Discuss the request to revise regulations to allow keeping of chickens in the Borough.”

Braekel poultry. Gold variant of the breed. Photograph by Stijn Ghesquiere 2004. {{GFDL}} from Wiki Photos. But note: no roosters, just hens, under the proposal.

I would start from a supposition that people should be allowed to do what they want unless there is a reason to prevent them.

Dogs are permitted and, as they roam, supposedly under their owner’s control, they do leave excrement (and of course urine) behind them on others’ property, to say nothing of barking on and off during the day.

Cats are permitted and they do eat birds, and when feral cause a problem for neighbors (if you’ve surprise encountered cat feces just under the surface while weeding your garden, you know what I mean).

So why not hens? They don’t bark, don’t roam the streets, and don’t leave their little deposits on others’ property. In fact, their excrement, when gathered by their owner, is valuable as fertilizer.

The Borough has quite a bit of animal life: rabbits, possums, an occasional deer and fox, voles, mice, raccoons, skunks, and many species of wild birds. They are part of our life.

I have some of the above but no dogs and cats and do not plan to have chickens either, even though I have some good memories of them on my grandfather’s farm in Ohio. But since I do accept many residents’ desire to keep dogs and cats for their own and their children’s benefit, I have no problem with having hens as neighbors for the same reason (and maybe the benefit to all of reducing the mosquito population).

Hens would stay on their own property and serve the cause of sustainability in our community, turning scraps into food and fertilizer. Makes sense to me!

If you agree, you can sign the pro-chicken petition here

As more and more families are moving toward local, organic food and attempting to incorporate sustainable practices in daily life, backyard urban chicken keeping is becoming more popular. Recently, many towns and cities across the country have created pro-chicken ordinances. I am requesting that the Borough of West Chester, Pennsylvania reconsider their current restriction on raising laying hens. Backyard chickens make great pets, and offer a fresh food source as well as natural mosquito control and great fertilizer for your garden.

It is suggested that new ordinance would take into account the following:

-number of birds permitted per household
-the regulation of roosters
-permits and fees required for keeping chickens
-chicken enclosure/containment restrictions
-nuisance clauses related to chickens
-slaughtering restrictions and,
-coop distance restrictions in relation to homes or property lines

When I was working in Lancaster I used to bicycle from the Amtrak station there to the college, and occasionally was entertained by a rooster crowing. Roosters would not be permitted the proposed ordinance change in West Chester, but I thought I’d share the haiku I wrote back then:

Downtown rooster,
Why so early, so loud,
So far from the barnyard?

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About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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One Response to Hens in West Chester: Why not?

  1. Stephanie says:

    I think it’s a great idea. Anything we can do as a society to encourage sustainability and eating local should be welcomed by all.

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