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Cumberland County borough pecks at idea to let residents keep chickens in their yards

While the ordinance could mean more city chickens, officials too aren't worried Carlisle will be going to the birds.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — Update, April 6: As of April 5, Carlisle Borough has amended an ordinance that will now allow residents to house chickens on their property, with stipulations.

Chickens are permitted to be on any residential lot, or any INS Institutional district lot, however, no coop or shelter can be in the front yard of the lot.

There must also be a 30-foot-minimum separation between the coop and any nearby residential structures located outside the lot.

Additionally, no chickens are authorized to be in any lots until the resident is issued a zoning permit for the coop and pays the annual $50 chicken licensing fee by the Borough of Carlisle.

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Carlisle Borough in Cumberland County is pecking at the possibility of letting more residents keep chickens in their yards. 

"I've wanted chickens since the moment we moved here. I grew up from a farm, I'm from Nebraska," said Traer Beauette from Carlisle. 

Beaudette says the borough's current rules make that impossible. Residents can have up to four hens on property larger than 5,000 square feet, but the coop must be at least 60 feet away from any building, something Beaudette doesn't have room for. 

Carlisle Zoning Officer Jared Woolston says just ten Carlisle residents have the necessary $50 chicken permit, something the borough is considering taking away. 

The new proposal would also let coops sit closer to homes than before. 

"When we landed on making this a little bit easier for people to get a permit, we landed on a thirty-foot separation distance," said Carlisle Borough Zoning Officer Jared Woolston. 

Beaudette supports the change, saying it would give her and her kids a sustainable source of food. 

"People kind of laugh at me, but honestly, I think with the cost of eggs right now. It's more appealing for people to have their own chickens," said Beaudette. 

Megan Myers operates Double Vision Acres a few miles down the road and understands the appeal. A high-producing chicken can lay up to 280 eggs per year. 

But, she says some may realize raising chickens isn't what it's clucked up to be. 

"'I'll get my own chickens and have my own eggs,' until you have them for a while and realize they actually are a lot of work," said Myers. 

The peeps need lots of food, warm shelter and space to strut. 

But the biggest challenge raising chickens in town...

"They produce a lot of manure. So, what are you going to do with the manure? It is hot manure. It can't go on your garden right away," said Myers. 

While the ordinance could mean more city chickens, officials too aren't worried Carlisle will be going to the birds. 

"I don't want to speculate whether or not there's a huge interest in getting chickens on any individual lot, but at least this would give people more options," said Woolston. 

The Carlisle Borough Council is expected to vote on the chicken proposal on April 5. 

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