Support Suburban Sustainability in Franklin Park Borough
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The purpose of forming this petition is to show our support for the changing of Franklin Park Borough municipal code to eliminate excessive restrictions in regards to the responsible keeping of fowl, livestock, and honeybees. Doing so will impart benefits to both individual residents and the community as a whole, by enabling our citizens to implement sustainable living practices.
Our community enjoys excellent schools, public services, and more, while striving to preserve the historically rural character of the land. Despite these strengths, our personal freedoms are severely restricted in regards to how we are permitted to utilize our own property. The current ordinance (Article 1900, Section 1901 D.(1), Animal Husbandry) states that a citizen's lot must be a minimum of 5 acres in order to practice "animal husbandry". No other allowance for the keeping of backyard animals is made. On a 5 acre lot, one may keep no more than 50 chickens per acre - so, up to 250 chickens on a 5 acre lot. Yet, a citizen on a 1 acre lot is not allowed a handful of chickens to keep as pets, for pest control, and to supply their own family with fresh eggs. This land requirement is excessively restrictive and significantly limits the number of residents who would qualify to legally raise animals on their property. In contrast, in the City of Pittsburgh, residents are only required to have a 2000 ft² (0.046 acre) lot to keep fowl, honeybees, or goats. That is literally less than 1/100th of the space required by Franklin Park's current ordinance! (5 acres = 217,800 ft²) Additionally, one must submit a Conditional Use Application and $200 for approval (Zoning Chapter 212, Article 400, Section 404, Table 4-1). Those found in violation of these codes may be charged excessive fines - up to $1500 per DAY!
The benefits of backyard homesteading are too numerous to list in their entirety here, but here are a few of the most relevant to our community:
- Pest control: Fowl such as chickens and ducks are excellent for pest control as they eat and help to eradicate ticks, mosquitos, slugs, termites, etc. Reducing the tick population is especially important in our region, where Lyme's disease is a serious health concern.
- Weed control: both fowl and goats will eat invasive and troublesome plants such as poison ivy, Japanese knotweed, bamboo, dandelions, etc. without the use of toxic herbacides.
- Food source: the foods produced by backyard homestead animals (honey, eggs, milk, etc.) are nutritiously and ethically superior to those produced by animals raised in "factory farm" environments.
- Education for children: learning where our food comes from and how to responsibly care for animals are invaluable life skills. More children would also be able to participate in youth development programs such as 4-H.
- Personal freedom: as free citizens of the borough of Franklin Park, we ought to have our right to food sovereignty protected - whether that be growing vegetables in our gardens, picking fruit from our trees, or collecting fresh eggs from our backyard hens.
We hope to work closely with the council members of Franklin Park Borough to help amend the ordinances to allow more of our citizens to legally keep backyard animals that support sustainable living in our community. We intend to provide research and relevant information, to make this decision and transition as efficient and effective as possible.
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the Council of Franklin Park Borough consider amending municipal code to allow more borough citizens the right to backyard keeping of livestock, fowl, and bees. We find the current requirements of agricultural zoning, conditional use approval (and associated $200 fee), and a minimum of 5 acres to be excessively restrictive for the many borough residents who desire to responsibly and legally keep these animals on their own property. As evidenced by their allowance in many nearby municipalities (i.e. City of Pittsburgh, Ross Twp., Sewickley, Mt. Lebanon, Bellevue, etc.), the keeping of these animals can be beneficial on both a personal and community level.
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