Flurry of complaints about neighborhood deterioration, YMCA, and Council unresponsiveness
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere hulas hoop,
But there is no joy in Kennett – the haughty chicken has been cooped.
(Apologies to Ernest Thayer, author of “Casey at the Bat”)
By Rick Marts, Correspondent, The Times
KENNETT SQUARE — Yes, at its Monday evening meeting, the Council solved the problem of the wandering chickens, which surfaced back in February when, during a public Council meeting, Robert Whiteside and others of Kennett Square described unacceptable chicken management in his neighborhood.
Borough Council held a public meeting Monday to obtain comments on its proposed ordinance governing the “keeping of fowl” in the Borough. Rusty Drumheller—the Borough’s zoning officer, Codes Department director, and building inspector—opened the discussion by summarizing the proposed law.
Drumheller said, “Several of the ordinance’s key provisions are that keeping roosters is prohibited, a property is limited to four fowl, the property should provide each bird with 16 square feet outside and three square feet inside its enclosed structure, fowl need to be inside at night, no butchering can occur on the premises, the owner needs a license, and the premises must be kept in clean and sanitary condition.”
Drumheller listed other provisions, and many others, including setbacks from adjacent properties, are contained in the formal language of the ordinance.
Councilman Dan Maffei made several comments. He noted, “My research shows that it is not inappropriate that we permit our residents to raise chickens, many other cities with denser populations allow fowl.”
Maffei pointed out, however, that some of the new law’s language may not be appropriate to fowl larger than chickens, such as turkeys. He asked, “I wonder whether we should limit the new law to only apply to chickens?” He also asked whether the requirement for a heat source in the enclosed structure was necessary, given the risk of fire that would arise.
After further discussion, the proposed language of the new law was amended to say that an owner “may” provide a heat source but was not required to do so. The motion to adopt the ordinance then passed unanimously.
Council also enacted an ordinance to amend Borough Code, Chapter 4, Building and Plumbing. This new law would prohibit using indoor furniture outside of a dwelling because of the fire hazard risk. No grandfathering is allowed under this ordinance. No public comments were raised.
During the meeting’s public comment period, several residents voiced concerns.
The first was Marsha Melton of Laurel Avenue. She told the Council that her neighborhood is rapidly deteriorating. She said, “It is becoming an area of misbehavior with loitering, cursing, drug dealing, and residents openly smoking marijuana.” She said that although signs are posted that prohibit trucks and loud music, both are commonplace in her neighborhood.
Robert Whiteside made several complaints about traffic signage, including the absence of a speed limit sign on Wayne Avenue or a stop sign at the corner of Laurel and Wayne Avenues. He pointed out that water pools at the corner of Wayne and Laurel, which forms dangerous ice sheets in cold weather. He also noted that Council members and the town manager do not return his calls.
Tony Talamonti rose to say that he believed the YMCA is taking up more of our town’s geography than it is paying for. He said, “Fewer than 500 of the YMCA’s 14,000 members live in the Borough, which means it is the taxes from our residents that pay for the infrastructure services used by the YMCA.” He ask why this institution is in our Borough and not out on several acres in a township. Lastly, he said, “No one on the Council ever gets back to me, including the town manager.”
On a more positive note, Kennett Area Parks and Recreation Board Executive Director Claire Finfrock reported that Pennock Park is continuing to be improved, thanks to 51 companies who have contributed to that effort.
Finfrock also reported that many activities under the auspices of the Parks and Rec Board have occurred or are currently underway. These include a food tent at the Kennett Run, three sports clinics, and a kids cross-country run. She looked forward to the Mushroom Festival 5k run, a volley ball clinic, a girls field hockey clinic, and the Junior Basketball league in the fall.
In his President’s Report, Council President Leon Spencer highlighted a meeting to be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 22, at the Episcopal Church of the Advent at 401 N. Union St. The meeting will focus on the issue of homelessness and how to house the homeless. Representatives of other churches will attend and the public is invited.