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EG Council Rejects Resident’s Bid to Keep Chicken
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            East Greenville Council rejected a bid by a resident to keep a chicken as an emotional support animal. On Monday, the members voted to reject a request from a State Street resident seeking a reasonable accommodation.

            Member Ryan Pugh cast the lone vote opposing a motion to reject the request. Alison Palmer – who had previously expressed her support for granting the accommodation – did not attend the monthly meeting.

            Solicitor Michael Peters announced that the request does not meet the borough's legal standard. After the meeting, he declined to provide any further details on the matter until the applicant received a letter explaining council's decision. The letter will become accessible to the public after the applicant receives the document, according to Peters.

            Prior to the vote, a former mayor asked the members to deny the request. Ryan Sloyer argued that the needs of the few should not outweigh the well-being of the majority.

            "It's a farm animal. Keep it in the township," Sloyer said early in the meeting that lasted 68 minutes.

            Sloyer argued that permitting a chicken in the borough might lead to other issues, including attracting more wild animals. He claimed a wild fox had recently visited the municipality.

            Last month, council reintroduced the issue of chickens in the borough. Member John Dingler described the matter as related to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

            According to Dingler, the municipality received a letter from a licensed therapist – on behalf of the resident – on April 24. He said it informed council that the resident wanted permission to keep a chicken, Matilda, for emotional support.

            Jim Fry, the borough's manager and code enforcement officer, told the members that he received a phone call from a doctor asking if the municipality allowed emotional support chickens.

            In late May, council sent Fry to the residence to investigate. He told the members he believed he saw three chickens at the property.

            Last month. Palmer expressed her support for granting the reasonable accommodation.

            In a text message received the day after the meeting, she claimed ESA chickens have been found to be highly beneficial for individuals with multiple disabilities like ADHD, autism, depression, and PTSD. She wrote that they are calming, provide sensory input, companionship, and are hypoallergenic.

            "In many ways they are easier to tend and less costly than other ESA animals such as cats or dogs," Palmer wrote in the message.

            In 2018, council received a similar request from a resident. The members crafted a 12-page ordinance that would have permitted only 30 property owners to keep chickens.

            The language of the ordinance limited the number of any female chickens that could be kept on a property to three and specified that they had to be stored in a chicken coop or chicken pen at all times only in a rear yard. It stated that the coop must be located at least 20 feet from the property line and at least 30 feet from any adjacent building not owned by the permittee.

            The ordinance required that any pens must be constructed of wood or metal posts with wire mesh fencing material, contain at least 10 square feet of area per chicken, rise at least four feet above the ground, and be buried at least one foot below the ground. However, the ordinance did not address therapeutic issues.

            On April 18, 2018, council approved the ordinance. Marita Thomson and Lon Brinckman II voted against it. However, 12 days later, Mayor Keith Gerhart vetoed it.  He confirmed the presence of four or five chickens at a residence on Main Street.

            In other news, the members voted to approve a proposal to consolidate four lots on Arlington Street. Joe Rock voted against the motion. The applicant is planning to build a single-family home on the newly created lot covering 49,677 feet.

            Council held an executive session immediately prior to Monday's meeting for legal matters, according to President Douglas Criddle. He said it started at 6 p.m.

            In June, the Borough of East Greenville Police Department responded to 111 total incidents. They included 29 for traffic, 17 public services, seven for parking, five assists, four accidents, three for animals and two thefts, according to information collected by Chief Randy Morris. The information, posted on a bulletin board outside the meeting room, includes 44 incidents identified as "other."






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