Backyard Chickens Zoning Amendment

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**Submissions closed for this project on October 19. Thanks to all contributors for their thoughtful feedback!**

May 2021 update: Following lots of great feedback in the fall of 2020, when this engagement project originally ran, the draft ordinance has been amended to allow for coops and runs to be within 50 feet of a property line (down from 100 feet). The public hearing for this change was held on May 24, 2021 during that evening's regular Town Council meeting. In advance of the hearing, the map, survey, and additional comments activities were reopened for public feedback.

Council is currently reviewing the results of the public hearing and may take action on the ordinances at an upcoming meeting in the near future.



McCandless Town Hall wants your feedback on backyard chickens! Currently Town Council is considering a zoning ordinance amendment to permit the keeping of chickens for personal use on single-family lots. If adopted, this will regulate the placement, size, and appearance of coops and runs.

The participant activities for this project include:

  • "I Want Chickens!" Map
    Place a pin on the map to show us where you'd like to keep backyard chickens. This will help us understand how proposed coop setbacks may affect properties where there is interest.
  • Survey
    Do you love chickens? Or could you really live without them? Answer a few quick questions about your chicken feelings.
  • Coop Inspo Board
    If your backyard had a chicken coop, what would it look like? Add to our coop mood board! Or, if you like what you see already, just leave us a funky chicken picture... we promise we'll show the rest of the office.
  • Additional Comments
    For anything you'd like to add that wasn't covered in the other activities. These will be collected by Town staff.

The rest of this project page provides background and context for the proposed backyard chickens zoning amendment. For the interactive activities where participants can provide feedback, scroll down to the tabs below!


Why are we talking about backyard chickens?

In recent years, the keeping of chickens by residents of non-farm properties, or "urban" and "backyard" chickens, has been gaining popularity. As residents begin to inquire about the rules and regulations for backyard chickens, many communities are finding that their zoning ordinances are not updated to accommodate this activity. Several municipalities in the greater Pittsburgh region have either created new standards for backyard chickens and coops, or are in the process of exploring an amendment that would permit and regulate them.

McCandless is no exception. Town Council is currently considering an amendment to the Town's zoning ordinance that would allow residents in single-family homes to keep backyard chickens for personal use and enjoyment, provided they can meet certain distance and appearance requirements for coop and chicken run construction. This interactive project is seeking feedback from residents that will help inform those zoning requirements.


What do our current ordinances have to say about chickens?

Under the current zoning regulations, chickens only are allowed on properties that are designated as farms. To be designated as a farm property, you must have at least 5 acres in the R-1 or R-2 district, and apply for a conditional use permit from Town Council. Additional regulations related to farming and agricultural activities also apply to this type of permit.

Residents of single-family homes and other residential properties not designated as farms are currently not allowed to have backyard chickens in any form.


What aspects of backyard chickens will a zoning update regulate?

Proponents of backyard chickens often cite positive benefits such as confidence in where the eggs they use are coming from, educational opportunities for young family members who may help with the chickens, and the general enjoyment that comes with caring for a pet.

But others may have concerns about having backyard chickens as neighbors - noise, odor, cleanliness of coops, and general animal health are common questions we've been hearing. The intent of this zoning amendment is to protect the privacy and comfort of those who are not interested in having backyard chickens, while opening up the possibility to residents who can meet the setback and space requirements for chicken coops and runs.

There will also be requirements to ensure the animals have adequate feed and clean water, a sanitary environment, and security from predators. Any suspected animal cruelty brought to Town staff's attention is required to be reported to the appropriate animal welfare authorities for further investigation.


May 2021 update: Following lots of great feedback in the fall of 2020, when this engagement project originally ran, the draft ordinance has been amended to allow for coops and runs to be within 50 feet of a property line (down from 100 feet). The public hearing for this change was held on May 24, 2021 during that evening's regular Town Council meeting. In advance of the hearing, the map, survey, and additional comments activities were reopened for public feedback.

Council is currently reviewing the results of the public hearing and may take action on the ordinances at an upcoming meeting in the near future.



McCandless Town Hall wants your feedback on backyard chickens! Currently Town Council is considering a zoning ordinance amendment to permit the keeping of chickens for personal use on single-family lots. If adopted, this will regulate the placement, size, and appearance of coops and runs.

The participant activities for this project include:

  • "I Want Chickens!" Map
    Place a pin on the map to show us where you'd like to keep backyard chickens. This will help us understand how proposed coop setbacks may affect properties where there is interest.
  • Survey
    Do you love chickens? Or could you really live without them? Answer a few quick questions about your chicken feelings.
  • Coop Inspo Board
    If your backyard had a chicken coop, what would it look like? Add to our coop mood board! Or, if you like what you see already, just leave us a funky chicken picture... we promise we'll show the rest of the office.
  • Additional Comments
    For anything you'd like to add that wasn't covered in the other activities. These will be collected by Town staff.

The rest of this project page provides background and context for the proposed backyard chickens zoning amendment. For the interactive activities where participants can provide feedback, scroll down to the tabs below!


Why are we talking about backyard chickens?

In recent years, the keeping of chickens by residents of non-farm properties, or "urban" and "backyard" chickens, has been gaining popularity. As residents begin to inquire about the rules and regulations for backyard chickens, many communities are finding that their zoning ordinances are not updated to accommodate this activity. Several municipalities in the greater Pittsburgh region have either created new standards for backyard chickens and coops, or are in the process of exploring an amendment that would permit and regulate them.

McCandless is no exception. Town Council is currently considering an amendment to the Town's zoning ordinance that would allow residents in single-family homes to keep backyard chickens for personal use and enjoyment, provided they can meet certain distance and appearance requirements for coop and chicken run construction. This interactive project is seeking feedback from residents that will help inform those zoning requirements.


What do our current ordinances have to say about chickens?

Under the current zoning regulations, chickens only are allowed on properties that are designated as farms. To be designated as a farm property, you must have at least 5 acres in the R-1 or R-2 district, and apply for a conditional use permit from Town Council. Additional regulations related to farming and agricultural activities also apply to this type of permit.

Residents of single-family homes and other residential properties not designated as farms are currently not allowed to have backyard chickens in any form.


What aspects of backyard chickens will a zoning update regulate?

Proponents of backyard chickens often cite positive benefits such as confidence in where the eggs they use are coming from, educational opportunities for young family members who may help with the chickens, and the general enjoyment that comes with caring for a pet.

But others may have concerns about having backyard chickens as neighbors - noise, odor, cleanliness of coops, and general animal health are common questions we've been hearing. The intent of this zoning amendment is to protect the privacy and comfort of those who are not interested in having backyard chickens, while opening up the possibility to residents who can meet the setback and space requirements for chicken coops and runs.

There will also be requirements to ensure the animals have adequate feed and clean water, a sanitary environment, and security from predators. Any suspected animal cruelty brought to Town staff's attention is required to be reported to the appropriate animal welfare authorities for further investigation.


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Map: I Want Chickens!

12 months

Do you want to give some backyard chickens a home if the zoning amendment is approved? Show us where! 

We'll use the pins on the map to help us understand whether the proposed regulations would allow residents who want chickens to fit them on their lots.

CLOSED: This map consultation has concluded.