Backyard chickens continue to be a source of controversy in North Huntingdon.
At the commissioners' voting meeting last week, the township's proposed backyard chicken ordinance was put back on the agenda at the request of commissioners' board President Lee Moffatt.
Earlier, at the Sept.12 special meeting, the commissioners voted 5-1 to reject the ordinance. Mr. Moffatt was absent from that meeting.
Last week, Cheryl Rossetti of Markvue Manor said she chose not to live in either an urban or agricultural environment.
She said proponents of the chicken ordinance have described its benefits in helping children understand where their food comes from. She noted, however, that her children learned how to make sausage and cheese from their grandmother, and learned how to take honey from honeycombs from bees raised by their grandfather without the family "having a cow in the backyard."
Her husband, Dominic Rossetti, said two of the biggest fowl problems in State College have been "the noise and chickens running down Beaver Avenue."
"Do you call the dog catcher, the police, the zoning office?" he asked.
Gayleen Fisher, who has spoken at a number of meetings about the ordinance, said allowing chickens on small lots "will cause a lot of problems among neighbors."
Aaron McGregor, who leads efforts to create a new ordinance allowing chickens on smaller North Huntingdon lots, spoke in support of the ordinance.
He said recent news reports revealed that America is outsourcing chicken processing to China.
"We want to supply our families with locally grown, organic protein," he said. "This backyard chicken movement isn't so much of a new thing as it is a shift back to our American roots, like canning, preserving, gardening and baking bread from scratch."
Almost 20 people stood and applauded Mr. McGregor.
He said the ordinance is a compromise and suggested the township issue 10 permits under the ordinance on a trial basis for one or two years to see how it affects the community.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Moffatt expressed his support for the chicken ordinance.
"I am 100 percent for this," he said.
He said he owns 1 1/2 acres and asked the other commissioners if they would approve the chicken ordinance if it were changed to allow chickens on larger lot sizes. The township's current ordinance allows chickens only on properties of 10 acres or more, and the new ordinance would have permitted chickens on lots of 7,500 square feet or more.
At the end of discussion, Commissioner Brian West introduced a motion to reject the new chicken ordinance and to move forward with another chicken ordinance. The motion failed for lack of a second.
• Last week, Commissioners Donald Austin, Tony Martino, Dave Herold and Mr. West also voted to enter into an agreement with a handful of homeowners who live along Roth Drive to help resolve a flooding problem there.
Under the agreement, the four homeowners will provide $31,000 for labor, and the township will pay for about $31,000 in materials to install a large pipe to carry a stream underground.
The present pipe is too narrow to hold the stream, which causes flooding in that area, township officials said.
Township manager John Shepherd said the township will also pay for a survey for an easement and will maintain the pipe afterward.
Commissioners Rich Gray, Zach Haigis and Mr. Moffatt voted against the agreement. Mr. Gray said similar problems exist throughout the township, and if the commissioners help with one flooding problem, they might be expected to help pay to resolve others.
• The commissioners also voted to take over maintenance of Ronda Court, a part of the Mills Barnes Lake Partnership Plan near Walmart, and to approve the Mills Pointe Developers Agreement.
Mr. Shepherd said the agreement will allow Mills Drive to be turned over to the township at some point.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.