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Battle Over Backyard Chickens In Luzerne County

PRINGLE — Some backyard chickens are at the center of a controversy in Luzerne County and one homeowner is crying “fowl.”

After planting a garden in her backyard in Pringle, Christine Dixon got an idea from a neighbor across the street to get fresh eggs every day.

“It was a logical extension of growing my own food and knowing where it comes from,” Dixon said.

But Dixon never expected Tilley, Scout, and Mauve to create such a stir. There’s no ordinance banning backyard hens in Pringle but the borough is one of 23 communities that follow Luzerne County zoning ordinances.

Dixon found out that backyard hens are banned after one person called in a complaint.

“My immediate neighbors love them. They come and bring them treats. They send their grandchildren over to visit.”

Some neighbors who did not want to talk on camera are not thrilled about having hens living next door. But other neighbors say they don’t mind.

“No. They don’t do anything!”

“I love the chickens next door. They have been my friends.”

Irene Kaschak says the chickens don’t cause any trouble and she enjoys the free eggs when she watches the hens for Dixon.

“I can tell they’re difference, especially when I’m baking. I tell a big difference, and also when I’m cooking,” Kaschak said.

Dixon applied for an exception to the Luzerne County zoning ordinances but it was denied. Two weeks ago, she received a citation in the mail.

“The fine, if I’m found guilty, is $500. That’s a lot of money.”

Dixon pleaded for officials to reconsider and now Luzerne County Council is reviewing a proposal that would allow a backyard chickens in residential areas.

Dixon is now looking for a temporary home for her hens and her citation will go before a district magistrate later this month.

Dixon is holding out hope that the rules will change so Tilley, Scout, and Mauve can return to the roost.

23 comments

  • jess

    The chickens are harmless and they have been there for years. My only problem is she needs to keep them on her property. I have chased them off the road numerous times. They could get hurt.

  • Deanna

    I would be willing to help! I have five hens and live in an area where they are not supposed to be “allowed”, but my town doesn’t care…. Everyone loves them, including the local police who sometimes get calls about them from people driving by. They just say, “yea. We know they’re there. They’re fine.”

  • Viv

    Are you kidding me? These people can’t be serious right? Chickens are probably the most harmless and easiest of animals to have around. You let them out during the day, you put them away at night. They don’t wander when you fence them in, and they provide you with pest control and eggs. I mean, don’t these people have better things to do with their time?

  • DOOT DE DOOO

    Really, they are worried about 3 chickens in a woman’s yard??? BUT THEY ARE NOT WORRIED ABOUT ALL THE CROOKS AND BACKROOM DEALS IN THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE!! Or the politicians lining their pockets with our money. WAKE UP PEOPLE, THEY TELL YOU ABOUT BS LIKE THIS, TO KEEP YOUR MIND ON BS, AND NOT THE REAL PROBLEMS IN THIS COUNTY!!!!!

    • Viv

      Some of us out here do still farm and it’s a rather useful thing to know. I don’t like all those chemicals in my food. I prefer things I’ve grown and worked hard to produce over over processed mediocre meat that barely has any taste.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    If they make her get rid if them and she cuts their heads off in the front yard, will they charge get with cruelty to animals?? Probably get a complaint from the same pita neighbor!!!

  • Bill

    All of this is a bunch of Bull$h!t designed to control us and keep us enslaved to the man! Remember when everyone grew their own food? Today they give you crap about everything! A neighbor planted a small garden in their front yard, they have barely any back yard, and they gave her the same trouble about it and made her remove it! What the hell do i care if a neighbor has watermelons or squash growing in the front yard vs the back? Oh, you mean the weeds are ok but not the veggies? A$$h@les!

    • Joe Schmoe

      So if I’m your neighbor and want to keep 2 rusty cars in my front yard that’s ok? I barely have any backyard and no driveway. What, you don’t like rusty cars? Well the other neighbors garden attracts bees and I’m allergic. And now I see the other neighbor has a clothesline in her front yard!

      • Viv

        Don’t like being around people? Move. Don’t like the fact they have rusty cars or chickens in their yard? Move. If you don’t like these kinds of things, YOU have an option of moving to a rural area or a gated community with a home owners association. Stop inconveniencing people around you so YOU can be happy. With 7 billion people on the planet, you’re not special.

  • Dr jones

    Poultry is a known transmitter of the Ebola virus. Why invite the death of your children to your doorstep?

  • Bridget

    Another question I have is if a Luzerne County is supposed to all be under the same rule then why are chickens allowed in some parts of Luzerne County and not others?

  • Bridget

    I know many people who have had chickens for years and no predators have come to find them so that comment is ridiculous.
    She would have been allowed to have chickens IF the neighbors approved it. Do the neighbors need to have approval from her for any of their actions? It is 3 chickens. They were always allowed in Pringle before. There is no logical reason this woman is getting fined or should have to get rid of them.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Everyone’s upset over a few chickens? Seriously, who gives a cluck?! Haha ya, I went there!

  • carrie

    I hope she succeeds – everyone should be allowed to provide for themselves by micro farming and having gardens no matter where they live. 3 hens is by no means a farm. Also, chickens do not lure in predators and more than your cat would, or you keeping a rabbit in a hutch outside. Predators exist in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike, they are there because it was their home first and they are adapting to the circumstances we placed on them. You are the intruder.

  • Jenna

    You bring chickens into a residential area and you also bring in predators looking for an easy meal. Before you know it, your cat Fluffy is missing or your little dog, Bingo. You wanna live like a farmer, move to a farm.

    • ilovechicken

      I have lived downtown for 10 years and have had my chickens for 3years and my ducks for 2years. My dog and cat have not fallen victim to any such predator you speak of. Really for people paying taxes and own the property should be able to have what they want. Its easy to say well just move to a farm if u want farm animals but it does no good. Its not like your paying to feed them or cleaning up after them. If it ain’t chickens attracting predators it can be a domestic pet. Hawks eat anything. They will take small dogs and cats. You don’t need a chicken around for unwanted pests. I’ve seen deer run through town. Times are tuff for most. To me the neighbors that have complained are ignorant. What harm are they doing that the 100s of stray abandoned cats around here have been doing. And to worry about three chickens. Come on….its not like she’s got 30 of them. People have had chickens in town for years. And because one or two people think it wrong the lady gets citied. To me if they are being cared for then leave the woman alone. If you don’t like it you can choose to move also. But I’m sure you’ll find something else to complain about there too.

  • JP

    Someone is raising a stink over three chickens. I’m sure other people in town have that many dogs or cats. Seems that would be discrimination, just because she has a different pet that is beneficial. I could understand if she had more than she could care for or if they were creating a legimate nuisance. A common sense ordinace might be to limit the number of animals/pets that a person could have per residence or per acre of land used within non-ag areas, and adding a provision of restricting animals over a certain size (i.e. height, weight, etc., or a combination thereof). What about people that own a pot belly pig or similar, is that also banned?

  • carl3572

    Chickens are actually really good to have around. Yes Roosters can be loud and some get nasty but pullets and hens hardly make any noise. I have 2 hens and they are great pets too. Very friendly, they only make some clucking noises during the laying of an egg. They eat bugs, and have reduced my garbage output seeing how I can feed them fruit, pasta, bread scraps, etc. They are easier to clean up after than my dogs. Fresh, healthy eggs everyday for me and the neighbors…. Can’t beat that. Unless you prefer store bought eggs which are usually already 30-40 days old by the time they get to the store.

    • Nancy

      With all the problems Luzerne County has with corruption, the last thing they should be doing is harassing a resident about a few chickens. No matter what someone does, even if it is good, you will always have a few neighbors who just love to complain. Leave this poor woman alone, and take care of the scumbags that are hurting babies, children, elderly, and animals. Oh, and also all the crooked politicians in this county.

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