Lawrence Ordinance Allowing Residents to Raise Chickens Introduced

    (photo credit: Mary Galioto)

    The Lawrence Township Land Use Ordinance has been amended, allowing residents to raise chickens on their property. Below summarizes the amendment’s content:– Breeding of chickens on the property is forbidden, as is their slaughter. All chickens must be hens. In the event of unsexed hatchlings or male fertilized eggs, such chickens must be removed before they turn 3 months of age or when they first begin crowing, whichever occurs first. Failure to remove such chickens from the property is grounds for revocation of the zoning permit and removal of all chickens.

    – For residents leasing property, the lessee must obtain written permission to use the property for home agriculture purposes, by the lessor.

    – Chickens must be confined to backyards.

    – Lot drainage swales and septic field must not be affected.

    – The Zoning Officer has the right to periodically enter the property to determine regulation compliance.

    – The number of chickens kept on the property is limited by the size of the residential lot:


    – All chickens must be housed and maintained in a humane manner and in accordance with good agriculture practice. The premises must be kept in a clean and sanitary manner at all times. Location where chickens are kept must be free of vermin and rodents. The Animal Control Officer and Health Officer has the right to enter the property to determine regulation compliance.

    – The chicken coop must: 1) be a minimum of 6 sq ft x 2 sq ft per chicken, 2) be fully enclosed, 3) not exceed the floor area size limitation for tool sheds in § 428.0, 4) be kept in good repair, have waterproof roofs and walls, be adequately lighted by natural or artificial means, and be ventilated, and 5) be greater than 10 feet from any property line or habitable structure on the same lot or 30 feet from a habitable structure on an adjacent lot.

    – A fenced chicken run of up to 6 feet in height that is greater than 10 feet from any property line or habitable structure on the same lot or 30 feet from a habitable structure on an adjacent lot, is permitted.

    Next steps? The Planning Board must review the amended ordinance and vote on its passage.

    News idea for Lawrence Township and Lawrenceville? Email Angela Jacobs (

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    Angela Jacobs
    Angela Jacobs is a freelance writer who lives in Hopewell Township with her teenaged children and partner of 20 years. Despite her best efforts to simplify her life, last year she added four chickens and a second rescue dog to her pet menagerie. Unfortunately, an interim of peaceful coexistence ended with the untimely demise of two of the chickens at the paws of Jax, the new dog. An egregious lack of impulse control has since been diagnosed resulting in an indefinite separation of Jax from all present and future chickens, her two cockatiels, open garbage cans, snacks open on tables, abandoned stuffed animals, etc. She does however gently encourage him toward a certain industrious squirrel that has spelunked its way through her backyard in search of the most perfect hiding spot for its nuts.

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