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Chicken Controversy Taken to Court in Luzerne County

SWOYERSVILLE — The battle between three women who own backyard hens and Luzerne County zoning and planning officials was taken to a district courtroom on Monday.

A district magistrate sided with county officials, who said chickens do not belong in residential areas.

Pringle borough and 22 other municipalities follow Luzerne County zoning ordinances, which prohibit backyard hens.

Christine Dixon told Newswatch 16 that she already found a temporary home for her chickens before the hearing, but she and two other women were told that they would face hundreds of dollars in fines if the animals aren’t removed within 30 days.

“I am hoping its temporary. We`re still hoping to get the law changed at the county level,” said Dixon.

Several of Dixon’s neighbors came to the hearing for support, and said they were surprised that the case was not thrown out.

“They’re backyard hens. That is all they are,” said Mary Ann Pelliccia. “My dog makes more noise and causes probably more problems than the chickens do. The chickens do not make any noise. They do not stink. They are not an eyesore.”

Luzerne County Zoning and Planning Director Nancy Snee said she and other officials are simply following the rules that are on the books.

“How we personally feel about chickens in residential zones is a moot point,” said Snee. “We just have to enforce the ordinance and we’ve waited several months to do this.”

Dixon, who is a Pringle Borough Councilwoman, said she is not getting preferential treatment.

“Absolutely not, as you have seen today,” said Dixon. “I am a member of Pringle Borough Council, but I still got fined. And I should, I should not be treated differently because of that.”

Luzerne County Council officials are expected to discuss a possible revision to the backyard hen ordinance at a meeting on Tuesday.



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