The push to legalize backyard chickens in Bridgeville is not dead.
Earlier this month, the Bridgeville Planning Commission refused to endorse a proposal that would allow residents to keep a limited number of hens on their properties.
One week later, Bridgeville councilmembers—who make the final decision when it comes to ordinance changes—said that the issue deserved more research and effort before they vote either way.
Councilmembers agreed to take up the issue in 2021.
“I don’t own chickens, and I don’t intend to run out and buy some if we pass this.” said council president William Henderson. “But I don’t know that [borough officials] have put forth enough effort looking at factual information.”
A few months ago, several planning commissioners seemed receptive to the idea of allowing resident to keep a small number of hens—no roosters— within certain limitations. By legalizing backyard coops, Bridgeville would be following the lead of Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh, and other municipalities that allow the egg-laying birds.
But after reviewing a draft ordinance, some planning commissioners raised questions about property setbacks, code enforcement, and why Bridgeville should allow four hens per yard instead of three. On Dec. 7, the planning commission recommend against adopting the ordinance.
But some borough councilmembers believe the planning commission could have delved deeper before dismissing the idea outright.
“We gave them permission to do some background research, but I don’t think that they went too far,” said councilman Nino Petrocelli Sr.
The planning commission brought up important questions, said Henderson, but stopped short of making adjustments based on the answers.
“I would have liked to see us go back and address some of the concerns, such as setbacks,” he said. “If we write [the ordinance] right, not every home in this community will be able to have chickens. Not every lot is built for it, but some are.”
Henderson didn’t outright endorse the idea of allowing chickens, but he did call for the issue to get a full examination before council holds a vote.
“I’m not saying that we pass this,” he said. “I’m suggesting that we address the issue with an ordinance that would work for our community so that we could consider it, and then people can vote their position.”
Approximately six Bridgeville residents currently have (illegal) backyard coops, according to manager Joe Kauer. A dispute between neighbors this summer put a spotlight on the fowl foul.
It is unclear how many, if any, additional residents want to being keep chickens in their backyards.
Now, here is legendary German film director Werner Herzog with some insight into the psyche of chickens: