Pittsburgh Urban Farming Ordinance Passes City Council

Pittsburghers who keep bees, chickens, and who garden for profit will have to fork over $300, take classes, and make sure their yards measure up. A new urban agriculture law finally made it through the city council this week. We get the story from the Allegheny Front's Ryan Delaney.

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DELANEY: A new zoning ordinance will restrict locations and numbers of beehives or chickens that can be kept at a home.

Homeowners with yards of 2,000 square feet will be able to keep three chickens. That's down from the 3,000 square feet the initial ordinance required. Another thousand square feet would allow residents another chicken. Beekeepers will be allowed two hives per 2,000 square feet.

Residents who want to keep chickens and bees will be required to obtain a one-time permit costing about $300. Those who grow produce for profit in the city will also have to pay the fee for their gardens.

Urban ag supporters came out loudly against the ordinance when it first came up last year and officials were sent back to the drawing board. They worked with community members like Jana Thompson on a compromise.

Thompson keeps bees and chickens at her North Side home. She says sheís glad there's something on the books, but the rules are still too stringent.

THOMPSON: Very few of us will actually be able to keep these animals within those guidelines. And a lot of us are going to have to go and get a variance for the use of our property.

DELANEY: City Councilman Bill Peduto established a $30,000 fund to help people pay for the new permit. People will also have to take classes as part of the permit process.

The planning commission will revisit the ordinance in a year.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Ryan Delaney.