By Raymond Boyd

Northeast: Residents Want to Raise Chickens in the City

Northeast: Residents Want to Raise Chickens in the City
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This story is the first of two about backyard chickens in Philadelphia and the effort to legalize them. It’s done in partnership with NEastPhilly.com and NewsWorks.

Philadelphia chicken owner, Jane Glenn, attended to her three 'girls.'

Philadelphia chicken owner, Jane Glenn, attended to her three ‘girls.’

Almost a decade ago, the City Council met to discuss a bill proposed by Councilman Brian O’Neill, R-10th.

The bill — written with help from the Health Department and the Law Department — amended Title 10 of the Philadelphia Code, which addresses ownership of poultry and livestock within city limits. The bill sought to make it illegal to own farm animals — “any chicken, goose, duck, turkey, goat, sheep, pig or cow” – on fewer than three acres of land.

Paragraph 6 of the Title 10 Amendment reads:

“No person shall cause or permit more than 5 expressions  of sound from one or more animals (such as individual barks from one or more dogs)  during a five minute period from any property audible at a distance greater than 50 feet  from the property boundary. This shall not apply to zoos, veterinary hospitals or clinics,  animal shelters, a circus or other licensed entertainment venue, or a facility used for  educational or scientific purposes, such as schools and laboratories.”

Fox Chase resident Maureen Breen, whose chickens were taken away in 2012 after a neighbor complained, said she thinks the regulations are overreaching. Her chickens were egg producers for her family and neighbors. “Neighbors on each side two doors down like the chickens,” she said, and people walking by on the way to the train station would often stop and ask questions about them.

In 2012, Maureen Breen’s chickens were confiscated from her backyard after a neighbor complained.

In 2012, Maureen Breen’s chickens were confiscated from her backyard after a neighbor complained.

Many Philadelphia residents raise “backyard chickens” for fresher and more cost-effective eggs, pest relief and fertilizer, and continue to fight against the notion that the birds are a nuisance to neighbors.

“My chickens are pets,” Manayunk resident Jane Glenn said of the birds she raises for eggs. She and Breen have been working with other chicken owners across the city to argue against the idea that chickens are noisy, dirty and aggressive, and uses the Philadelphia Backyard Chickens to help spread the word.

The 2004 bill passed with an 11-6 vote, and though Council expressed intentions to revisit the matter, the law remains in effect. O’Neill did not respond to requests to comment about this story.

Here is the second part about Northwest Philadelphia at http://bit.ly/Y79sku

The Chicken Decision: City Council’s 2004 Transcripts

The following links are transcripts from the 2004 decision to regulate ownership of farm animals in Philadelphia, including chickens.

May 20, 2004

June 10, 2004

One comment on “Northeast: Residents Want to Raise Chickens in the City

  1. The law is overreaching. Noise and sanitation codes were already on the books that would address nuisance animals or pets. Philadelphia is also out of step with the growing national trend in major cities (like our neighbors New York and Baltimore) that protect small urban flocks.

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