Chickens and address changes discussed at Gloucester Township’s Council meeting

Chicken ordinance passes on first reading, though not without concerns from residents

One of the topics at last week’s Gloucester Township Council meeting was the new ordinance regarding backyard chickens.

Council had an ordinance up for first reading to authorize the keeping of backyard chickens, which several residents spoke about during public comment.

Several residents raised issues about the regulations, specifically about selling eggs to neighbors. Councilman Orlando Mercado responded saying the chickens are intended to be pets and not to make money. Solicitor David Carlamere added this issue had not been previously raised during the pilot program.

Another concern was about the height of the chicken fences and issues of diseases that could come from the chickens or if the council had used the pilot program to conduct any studies about diseases, because they were worried about people with health issues such as asthma or cancer or those who are under the age of 5 are at higher risk.

Mercado responded that no studies had been done because there had been no issues during the pilot. He said there had been opportunities to ask for studies to be done prior to last week’s vote, and there will be a second vote in two weeks where people can express their support or opposition.

Councilwoman Tracey Trotto responded she called the CDC, which said the people at risk were those who were handling the chickens and not the neighbors.

Residents then raised concerns that the CDC had previously said the diseases could become airborne and could affect neighbors. There were other risks as well, such as mice and hawks that would come because of the chickens.

Council unanimously passed the ordinance.

Council then voted on two ordinances on second reading. The first was a speed limit reduction from 45 mph to 30 mph along Erial-Clementon Road. The second was an amendment to the maintenance code. Both passed unanimously.

In other news:

• Resident Joan Benko asked about address changes. She said street signs had changed and wanted to know how if there was a way to get consistency for her mail to come to her address in Erial, rather than Sicklerville. She has been unable to change her address through the post office.

Mercado said the township was not responsible for address changes, and Councilman Dan Hutchison suggested Benko take her home deed to the post office to use for her address change. Business administrator Tom Cardis said the township had never changed the road signs.

Another resident, Donna Leonardis, added she is also a resident of Erial but most of her mail comes to Sicklerville. She said the zip code should work, regardless of the name written.

John Benko then said for the last four years, his medication has been always going to the wrong place because of the confusing addresses. He said he has had to stop using mailed medications with a discount because of it.

Mercado asked if he had tried using Gloucester Township as his address, to which Benko said he did not want to.

• Resident Dorsett Kelly also brought up a loud nightclub that is in a residential/commercial zone. Carlamere said there is a mayor’s meeting coming up to discuss the noise ordinance and he would bring her comments up then.