In Lower Paxton, all they are saying is: Give bees a chance


DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Or more precisely, Lower Paxton Township in Dauphin County. That matters, because this was one of the only municipalities in the county where you couldn’t have a chicken or two on a yard smaller than an acre, or which regulated beehives at all. Was. Past tense.

Ashleigh Pollart and Colin Powell fought the law, and… they won! Well, maybe that’s overstating the case. But they did manage, over the course of an 18-month campaign, to convince township supervisors to change the rules to allow people like them, who own a typical house and yard, to keep chickens and bees, provided they met what they considered sensible conditions. In a 4-1 vote, supervisors approved the new rules. And Monday night, the chickens came home to roost.

Well okay, not exactly, because one of the conditions is that you can have hens but not roosters, which is fine with Pollart and Powell, who are mostly interested in eggs.

They’ve already named the two hens Rhubarb and Miss Money-Henny.

“We had friends in different cities across the country who had chickens, and they just raved about them,” Pollart said. Yes, cities as dense as New York, she said, had more permissive rules than Lower Paxton Township.

Next up: bees for the hive they already have in place.

Pollart and Powell said some of the rules made no sense. For example, you needed two acres of land to keep a horse. Fair enough. But then you needed an acre for even a single chicken, whereas there was no land requirement at all for up to five dogs.

This was about the birds and the bees, yes, but also about more than that.

“I mean we started going to [board of supervisors] meetings just to pop in at the beginning of public comments section and drop a chicken fact here and there,” Powell said. “But we ended up staying through the meetings and learning about all sorts of issues.”

Pollart said they wanted to answer a broader question: “Do citizens and residents have power and influence to create change?”

The answer, for them at least? Yes. The lesson for others? “I think the lesson is we all have the power and the influence to create change,” she said while adding some people in society have less of a head start in that regard than others.

She said the process mostly gave them faith in… well… the process. She and Powell did their part to educate supervisors about chickens and hens, and about laws in other places, and township staff and supervisors did their own research.

“A few of them went out to people who have chickens and spoke to their neighbors,” Pollart said.

They said some people are, in their view, particularly misinformed about bees.

“Honeybees, specifically,” Powell explained. “When they sting people, they die. Their mission is to go out there and pollinate.”

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