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Peters Twp. Family Fights To Keep Backyard Chickens, A Growing Trend In Suburbia

PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- The Lucas children in Peters Township love their six chickens kept in a spiffy dad-made chicken coop in their backyard.

"This is Scratchy. You can tell cause she has like brown feathers. She's the leader of them," says 9-year-old Sawyer Lucas.

Each one has a name.

"Junebug, Daisy and Ethel."

Ali Lucas says her children learn important lessons from raising chickens.

"I think they've learned a lot. It's been great. They've raised them since they were chicks. They've gotten to watch them grow up. They've learned responsibility," she told KDKA-TV's Jon Delano.

But the Lucas family lives on a small third-of-an-acre in a nice subdivision, and zoning officials think chickens should be limited to 10-acre farms.

However, a local ordinance says chickens are small domesticated animals like dogs and cats; so on Tuesday night, the zoning appeals board agreed with the Lucases.

"We were allowed to keep the chickens," said Ali Lucas.

Chickens and chicken coops in a tight residential community like this are really out of the ordinary, but it is a growing trend.

Municipal officials are wrestling with whether chickens should be allowed at all and, if so, under what circumstances.

Township manager Michael Silvestri says Peters is reviewing its current ordinances.

"Most municipalities don't permit them in residential areas," he said.

He worries backyard chickens create unwanted issues.

"The biggest concern is the potential of vermin and other pests because of foxes and rats and that type of stuff, and the cleanliness," says Silvestri. "And we've also heard concerns about odors and noise."

But Kelly Dembiczik, who lives right next door, disputes those concerns.

Delano: "You're right on top of that chicken coop."

Dembiczik: "Right. We sit outside in the morning and have breakfast. We watch them in the coop, run around, and it's fine with us."

Forest Hills Considers Allowing Urban Farming (5/15/13)
North Huntingdon Commissioners: Backyard Chickens Are "Regression" (9/13/13)
More Peters Township News
More Reports by Jon Delano

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