ROARING SPRING - In June, when the Roaring Spring Borough Council first discussed an ordinance to deal with backyard chickens, Council President Bill Brumbaugh said: "In reality, someone can have a goat walking around your neighborhood."
His comments were prophetic: On Monday, as the council ironed out a schedule for a final vote, a guest announced that two goats, a handful of chickens and a rooster have taken up residence outside a Cherry Street home.
The proposed rule and an accompanying zoning change are set for a possible December vote after public hearings and approval from county authorities, solicitor Larry Lashinky said.
Together, they're set to make home animal husbandry all-but impossible in Roaring Spring - but for now, officials have to deal with what appears to be a miniature farm in a residential neighborhood.
"We have chickens on Cherry Street. We have a rooster on Cherry Street. And we have billy goats on Cherry Street," resident Michelle Sullivan told the council. "There's not enough room in the cage for the billy goats to even turn around, and they put a towel over the rooster so you can't hear it go, 'Cock-a-doodle-doo.'"
Brumbaugh said he's driven by the house and seen the backyard birds. Borough police can likely deal with the situation, council members said, as the animals cross the line into a clear nuisance.
As for the new ordinance - planned after a Roaring Spring resident put up a home chicken coop - animals would be more closely regulated, with clear limits on "barks, howls, yelps, cries" and other "disturbing noise."
Whole classes of animal would be forbidden; at the Monday meeting, council members added venomous snakes and snakes longer than 6 feet to the proposed list.
An accompanying zoning-rule change would make farming in the borough nearly impossible. Municipalities can't explicitly forbid a zoning class - agriculture, for example - but the proposed change would require farming operations to be at least 5 acres, with buildings hundreds of feet from any property line, Lashinsky said.
That would make agriculture prohibitively difficult in the tightly concentrated borough.
Lashinsky noted that council members can make changes as the proposals move toward approval, possibly before the year's end.
"Nothing's set in stone," he said.
Even so, alternatives are possible: In the borough office, someone has posted a news clipping about chicken diapers - developed by companies with names like "Pampered Poultry" and "Hen Holster" so urban farmers can care for fowl indoors.
"First it was city dwellers raising chickens as a hobby," the note reads. "Now it's diapers for those feathered friends."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.