Chickens, Beehives, and Produce Sales are Legal for Pittsburgh Residents

If you were waiting to move to Pittsburgh until you could own chickens or a beehive in your urban backyard, wait no longer.  In recent weeks, Pittsburgh City Council passed a new Urban Agriculture Zoning Code that will expand the diversity in urban farming.  Soon it may not be strange to wake up to the sound of a rooster or a city bus.  Local NPR syndicate, WDUQ, reported on the new city ordinance here.

Julie Butcher Pezzino, Executive Director of Grow Pittsburgh, sent the following newsletter to members to announce the news.  Grow Pittsburgh is committed to the pursuit of a future where growing and eating healthy, local food is commonplace.
Dear Supporters of Grow Pittsburgh, 
I am pleased to inform you that this morning, the Pittsburgh City Council passed the city's first Urban Agriculture Zoning Code. As some of you know, Grow Pittsburgh has been working diligently with the City's Planning department, City Council and many partner organizations to construct a code that is fair and reasonable for both urban agriculture enthusiasts and city residents at large. 
Among many other items, the code now permits as follows:
- The keeping of up to 3 chickens with 2,000 sq. ft or more of land (this includes the footprint of the home)
- Housing of 2 beehives with 2,000 sq. ft or more of land and a minimum 10 feet from a neighboring property line
- On-site sale of produce grown on vacant land with permission from the owner
Grow Pittsburgh was particularly concerned about the fees associated with this code - upwards of $300 in payments is required in order to gain permissions for these urban agriculture related activities. While the fees still exist, thanks to the enterprising efforts of Councilman Bill Peduto, a $30,000 fund entitled the Urban Agriculture Education Fund has been established to assist individuals in covering them, as well as obtaining basic education about backyard bee and chicken keeping and operating a farm stand. 
Councilman Peduto has asked Grow Pittsburgh to work with City Planning to devise a plan for the roll out of these educational offerings and subsequent fee waivers. As we consider a plan and work with other community partners, we will keep you abreast of what we determine. For a city council to offer this kind of formal financial support to urban agriculture is fairly unprecedented, and is a statement from officials that they recognize the value and need for this work in our community. As other cities look to support individuals in covering fees and education related to urban agriculture, we hope they look to Pittsburgh as an example of how a city can support this "growing" community. We are grateful to Councilman Peduto for his hard work in making this fund a reality. 
We have been informed that City Planning will produce a document that walks residents through the process of applying for permits to participate in these activities. Grow Pittsburgh also hopes to work with City Planning to distribute a document that more simply breaks down the basic provisions of the code. 
Thanks to all of you who came to the planning and council meetings, wrote and called in your suggestions, and supported this code. We at Grow Pittsburgh know that there has been frustration around the code in the past, and the ensuing "rules" that have been created for urban agriculture. In the end, these rules are truly meant to be for the benefit of our community: to protect practitioners from unwarranted complaints, to ensure animal safety and to encourage education around these subjects. City officials will be revisiting the language in one year, to determine if adjustments need to be made. We hope this will continue to be for the benefit of growers, and bee and chicken keepers here in the city.

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