STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — When 10-year-old Maeve Elliott decided to get chickens – she thought of them as pets! Now she’s fighting for the right to keep her pets as township officials are telling her that the chickens must go.
Maeve got four baby chicks at the beginning of quaratine and has been raising them into chickens.
“I like picking them up and holding them and like and when they’re about to go into the garden you can just put them on your wrist and they’ll just fly off and it’s really cool to see how they fly,” says Maeve.
Maeve’s family says caring for her four hens — Purple, El, Banana, and Waffles during quarantine has given her a sense of purpose. “Kind of just watching them grow and having something new to learn about just helped me like a lot of people are getting pets so this helped me a lot,” says
Even Maeve’s pediatrician agrees. He wrote a letter to the township saying, “the chickens are a source of routine, responsibility , emotional support and focus that is consistent for Maeve.”
On May 15th — Maeve’s 10th birthday — she got a gift she never asked for — a pair of citations.
Don Franson is an engineer with the township – he’s very familiar with the Elliot’s case saying, “the first violation was for the possession of chickens they on a point five four parcel i believe and in our township you have to have 10 acres in order to have chickens.” But the other? For having a garden…which they consider an “obstruction.”
Don says the family has built an enclosure that extends into the townships right away and to do any work within the right away you have to get a permit. Don says the township would not have permitted it even had they applied for one based on what they’re doing.
An unwelcome surprise since Maeve was told she could have chickens in the township before she bought them. “The lady said you can have chickens here like there’s no actual law that says you can’t but unless someone complains you might have to get rid of them,” says Maeve.
The neighbors we spoke with don’t seem to mind – and many didn’t even realize Maeve had chickens. “I’ve submitted a letter signed by myself and my family along with two other neighbors on this end of oak ridge in support submitted to council – I’ve also attended to a council meeting to speak on their support,” says Neighbor Jen Weld
The family has filed several right to know requests – asking the township about the basis of these complaints, but there hasn’t been much of a response. In fact the township requested a 30 day extension on having to provide a response – which leaves the Elliots feeling frustrated, and defeated.
And while Maeve refuses to end the fight, saying the chickens are like her family, the township says the rules that are in place is what they must enforce.
The township says they have until the end of the month to correct the situation –or they’ll be fine up to $1,000 dollars a day.