WELLSBORO — A decision to prohibit chickens will remain in place because it’s been that way for 27 years.
That was the reason given by one council member Nov. 9 when asked by Raquel Rogers why three council members and the mayor voted to retain the prohibition.
Rogers and her wife, Anna Wales, have been battling council since July for the right to keep their eight ducks and chickens on their one-acre property on Bodine Street.
Last month, council voted to rezone the area to rural residential, but not to change the ordinance restricting what kinds of livestock can be kept there.
When asking for the council member’s reason for their vote, Rogers got little explanation.
“There is an ordinance against them,” said council member John Sticklin.
Rogers pressed the board to explain further, as rural residential is intended to promote open spaces, forestry and agriculture.
“Agriculture is defined as allowing for the keeping of animals and I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t allow for the keeping of animals in a rural residential district,” Rogers said.
Under the borough’s ordinance, properties with 10 acres or more may keep three horses, cattle, llamas and sheep, four with 15 acres, but not poultry, goats, alpacas or bees. The ordinance was amended in November 2019 to include cattle, sheep and llamas as an allowed animal.
“So in the rural residential district, you allow people with 10 acres or more to keep sheep,” Rogers asked. “Why not allow them to keep goats? They are basically the same animal.”
“Again, did you read the ordinance?” Sticklin responded.
“I did read the ordinance and I’m wondering why,” Rogers replied.
“Because in 1993, the town fathers decided that’s the way it ought to be and we’re upholding that,” Sticklin said.
Voting on the original animal ordinance in 1993 were John Dugan, who voted against the ordinance, along with David Burket, Pete Lupkowski, Tom Bolton and Michael Wood, who still serves on the council, in favor. The ordinance has been amended since then.
When Sticklin said “Everybody in Wellsboro is treated the same,” Rogers replied, “Are they? Because there are other people in the borough with animals and they are not being fined.”
Sticklin told Rogers to provide a list of violators and “we’ll send them letters, no problem.”
“Why should I rat out someone?” Rogers asked.