Montrose Council balks at chicken request

With a room filled with supporters, Montrose resident Danielle Henry asked the borough council to review their position on the ownership of chickens in the borough.

Henry said she had briefly circulated a petition, garnering 50 signatures in a short amount of time. She told council, at the Monday, Aug. 1, meeting that about five people she spoke with were opposed to borough residents raising chickens.

“Quite a few people are not against it. They like the option, even if they are not going to get them right away,” she said.

Henry told council that she would like her children to have the experience of raising the hens, and also cited rising food costs as a reason she wanted to add a small coop in her yard in order to be more sustainable and less reliant on the grocery store. “I hope you are wide and consider families that are struggling,” she said.

Those advocating for council to allow for chickens in Montrose were also in favor of setting up rules limiting the number of hens that could be owned and not allowing roosters.

Councilman Ed Herd also voiced his support for those who wanted to take on the responsibility of raising chickens.

Other council members pointed out past experiences with one resident allowing chickens to free-range and another incident where chickens were housed in a wire cage in a driveway.

Councilman Craig Reimel said those past experiences are causing council’s hesitation on moving forward. He also noted concerns about who would enforce any rules, if allowed by the borough.

Councilman Randy Schuster warned of a slippery slope – with chickens in the borough leading to others adding more farm animals. He also noted that the borough’s zoning preserves property value.

“I think if people want chickens, they should be allowed,” offered Kevin Spickerman in support of Henry’s request.

Henry said she was concerned that council would keep putting the decision off if it was not handled at the meeting.

Herd agreed. “It would definitely be pushed off,” he said. “Look at the people in the room, no one is against it except for the people on council.”

Schuster said that if a vote was called Monday night, the measure would fail.

Herd did make a motion to allow for the ownership of up to six hens, 10-feet from the property line. (Currently, 50-feet from the property line is required in order to own chickens).

His motion died on the table as it did not receive a second.

Council President Judy Kelly said she would have offered the second to the motion but council rules kept her from seconding a motion.

Councilman Sean Granahan advised those wishing to raise chickens seek a variance through the zoning hearing board process.

Council also discussed some buildings with significant code issues in the borough. Codes Enforcement Officer Roy Williams provided council with updates on those properties and next steps to be taken by the borough.

The borough hired George Morin to the police force.

A meeting will be held on Monday, Aug. 15, for council to act on the Delta Engineering proposal for the new borough garage project. Council also approved applying for zoning and building permits required for the prospective project.

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