Chickens to leave while council revisits animal ordinance

Jude, the three-year-old son of Raquel Rogers and Anna Wales, shows his favorite chicken, Houdini, what it’s like to swing.

WELLSBORO — A judge has determined that a Wellsboro couple violated the borough’s ordinance in keeping poultry and must pay.

Wellsboro Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Repard issued an order April 20 denying a request to dismiss the citation against Raquel Rogers and Anna Wales and awarded $3,000 to the borough.

Borough Manager Scot Boyce Jr. said that the borough council will still honor the offer to, if the chickens are removed from within the borough, to waive the penalty and only seek reimbursement of the borough’s legal fees, estimated at around $1,000, as of the March 29 hearing before Repard.

Council is still considering a revision to the ordinance, Boyce said, with council having a productive discussion at their most recent committee meeting.

Wales and Rogers plan to remove the birds immediately.

“We are going to move the birds to another home in the 16901 zip code that is outside of the borough limits while we wait for the new ordinance,” wrote Wales in an email. “While there were certainly numerous disappointments throughout this process, I do not regret keeping the birds for the last year. Houdini, Dusty, Chicken Dilly and the other pet hens have a clean, safe home on Bodine Street and I look forward to the day when they come back home.”

The borough initially requested fines totaling more than $7,000. Rogers and Wales purchased several ducks and chicks in 2020, and have been lobbying the borough to keep their flock on their one-acre property at 30 Bodine St.

The borough learned of the violation in May 2020, and sent a notice to Wales and Rogers asking them to remove the birds. The pair repeatedly asked borough council to revise its ordinance, but the motion never garnered enough votes to pass.

The borough’s ordinance allows properties having 10 or more acres in rural residential zones to keep cattle, horses, llamas and sheep. Goats, alpacas, poultry and swine are prohibited.

Next, the couple and several neighbors asked that their properties be rezoned to rural residential, but that change did not impact the ordinance.

Additionally, the pair requested a variance through the Zoning Hearing Board arguing that the ordinance acted as zoning by prohibiting keeping certain animals except in a commercial agricultural operation. The board ruled that the request was outside its jurisdiction.

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