Residential chickens are allowed in Tabernacle with ordinance approval

chicken

Chickens can now be the newest residents to the Tabernacle area.

The Tabernacle Township Committee approved the ordinance on residential standards for keeping chickens with a four-to-one vote last week.

“When you have residents that desire something in your town, and it doesn’t have an overall public burden, I think it is my responsibility to find a way to make things work and have restrictions on it as well, so the overall population is not bothered by it,” Mayor Stephen Lee IV said. “Residents who had chickens, they wanted to have chickens, and we found a way to make it work.”

The ordinance has been a long debated topic in Tabernacle. The ordinance was originally introduced in early September. In the August meeting where a chicken ordinance was discussed, members of the community voiced their support of the ordinance being passed.

At the meeting in September, a number of residents spoke against the ordinance, as they worried about attracting animal predators, coop setback issues and manure management. The ordinance was approved on first reading, despite the concerned comments, however it would go before the Land Development Board to be sure there were no setback issues with the coops. A back and forth on the topic of residential chickens continued in the meetings to follow.

In November, the township worked to get Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Presentation on Domestic Chickens to inform the public about keeping residential chickens. According to Lee, those who came to the informational session were all in support of the ordinance.

Through various public comment sessions, input from Rutgers University and township boards, some amendments were made to the ordinance.

“Collectively, it was a comprehensive review and construction of an ordinance in a very public way,” Lee said.

The original ordinance, along with the amendments, was put up to second reading at the Dec. 13 meeting. Residents who attended the meeting did not attend the chicken information session, according to Lee, and voiced disapproval on the procedural manner of the ordinance. The ordinance was still put to a vote, with Committeewoman Kim Brown as the lone “no” vote.

The ordinance prohibits roosters or cockerels; limits the number of female chicken allowed on any residential lot to a maximum of 12; prohibits the sale of agricultural products; and requires a permit to keep chickens.

Shelters are required to be located at least 60 feet from any residential structure on an adjoining property, cannot exceed 60 square feet in size or eight feet in height, and fences cannot exceed six feet in height. There are also a number of requirements for manure storage, use and removal.

To read the full ordinance, visit www.townshipoftabernacle-nj.gov/CHICKEN%20ORDINANCE,%20AS%20ADOPTED.pdf.

In other news:

The agreement between the Tabernacle Athletic Association and the township was approved 5–0. The agreement permits the TAA to use the Patty Bowker Sports Complex Concession/Snack Stand together with the garage, bathrooms, storage area and kitchen. The agreement outlines allowances for the TAA to use the facilities, such as responsibilities, maintenance and insurance liabilities. Lee said the TAA volunteers put a lot of work into the construction of the building and some financial support, though the county did give the township grants to make the Patty Bowker Sports Complex Concession/Snack Stand.

Editor’s Note: The following article reflects some edits as the chicken ordinance was amended the night of the meeting.