Bridgeville’s backyard chicken ban moved a little closer to being overturned last week.
The borough planning commission voted 4-1 to ask Bridgeville’s attorney to draft an ordinance that would allow residents to keep a limited number of chickens in their yards. When that draft ordinance
Planning commissioner Mike Tolmer was not present for the vote.
Dick Deklewa, who cast the lone dissenting vote, is vigorously opposed to allowing the tiny-brained birds into the borough. Deklewa said that he might consider legal action if Bridgeville moves to legalize backyard chicken keeping.
Note: The planning commission does not have the power to change laws. Instead, they make recommendations to borough council, which then votes on whether to actually change existing laws. In this case, the planning commission will review the draft ordinance and decide whether to send it on to council for approval.
The community already has enough poorly maintained properties without adding chickens into the mix, Deklewa said.
“If people want to have chickens, they should do what you do with a dog and keep it in the house,” he said. “If they want to have chickens, let them move to South Fayette.”
Numerous communities in Allegheny County—including the City of Pittsburgh—allow residents to keep a small number of chickens in a backyard enclosure.
Chickens don’t make much noise, their pens are easily cleaned, and they’re about as likely to attract rodents as your average backyard composting bin.
But that’s assuming the dim-witted birds are kept by responsible owners. Bridgeville’s recent chicken kerfuffle was sparked by one resident’s complaints that neighboring chickens were running loose from yard to yard last month.
Any law that legalizes backyard birds would likely create strict standards regarding regarding enclosures and numbers of chickens allowed. The borough might even introduce an annual permit requirement. No roosters would be allowed, due to noise concerns.
“If you’re not creating any kind of nuisance situation, I wouldn’t be adverse to allowing it,” said planning commissioner Larry Lennon Sr.
Tim Nath agreed, saying that “with appropriate controls, it brings us up to par with our neighbors, including the city of Pittsburgh.”
Deklewa, however, was adamant that even carefully crafted rules permitting a few chickens could lead to parts of Bridgeville resembling rural Appalachia. Actually, homes in rural Appalachia are already better-maintained that certain residences in Bridgeville, Deklewa said.
“The history with this borough,” he said, “is that nobody gives a damn and they’ll let anybody do what they want.”
He cited a few examples around town of what he believes are people abusing ordinances to the detriment of the community.
“I will get representation if we move [forward],” Deklewa said. “I don’t want chickens around here.”