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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 89568
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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We are trying to get 3 chickens in our borough for pets and

Customer Question

We are trying to get 3 chickens in our borough for pets and the zoning officer is citing a specific zoning article to keep us from doing so. He is not enforcing the entire article borough wide and they are picking 3 words out of it and only coming after us. Even though there is no ordinance or law prohibiting us from having chickens, now the borough is trying to pass a law while we are waiting on the town solicitor to give us an answer. Is there anything we can do for this discrimination against just us and the back handed nature of it all?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Enforcement of ordinances is a discretionary function of the government in the Borough. As long as they are not enforcing them based only on your age/race/sex/disability, I am afraid that you have to fight them through getting support in the borough to speak out against the new ordinance and to show up with your support at the borough meeting to speak out against it.

I am afraid that outside of you proving that they are enforcing this only against you based on your age/race/sex/disability this is your only legal recourse in this type of case.



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Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 89568
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
Law Educator, Esq. and 15 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What about the fact that they are only enforcing part of a zoning article against us and allowing others in the borough to get away with what they are doing to us?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response.

Legally, not all actions taken against people are unlawful discrimination. In order for it to be illegal discrimination against you I am afraid you have to prove it is being enforced against you based solely on your age/race/sex/disability. I understand you see them enforcing it against you only, but enforcement of this type of ordinance is discretionary to the government entity.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I had called the borough offices originally to see if I was allowed to have chickens. They had told me yes. Now that I have the coop just about built they are fighting us on it. Can I go back on them for the cost of the coop?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response.

If you have proof that they approved the coop and the chickens, you have a right to go to court against them to fight their denial based on the prior approval they have given you. Of course, in court you bear the burden of proving that they did give you the prior approval.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

If there is no ordinance from having chickens now and we get the chickens, then they pass an ordinance after the fact... Is there a grandfather clause that we would be privy to?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
There is no such thing actually as a "grandfather clause," it is more an operation of constitutional law in which the constitution and the courts do not like "ex post facto" laws (after the fact laws) and as such when a law is passed to outlaw something that was once legal the courts look at that law with additional scrutiny to determine if there is some overriding governmental interest in enforcing the law against those such as yourself who already have chickens and if the government does present some compelling reason for enforcement against those who already have chickens then the court would allow the government to force you to get rid of the chickens after the new law is passed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

so would we have anything to stand on with making them enforce the same articles and ordinances that they are on us, borough wide?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your follow up. I am afraid that there is nothing legally you can do through the courts to force them to enforce the ordinance against others. The only thing you can legally do is use the public media and take out ads to let the people know the government is not properly enforcing the laws equally against all persons.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for your help. This has been going on for 4 months and we have close to $1000 invested into the coop. We live in a borough that is deemed agricultural so it is hard to believe that they would put up a fight for 3 chickens. They have a public pond that has close to 40 ducks in it less than a half mile from my house. Both are the same distance from the borough office (my house and the pond). Can I legally put out ads in the paper, put signs in my yard or take out a billboard and the borough board and police do nothing against me?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response.

Sometimes governments can be unreasonable for unknown reasons. Yes, you can put ads in the paper, signs in your yard and even take out billboards and they cannot do anything to you as you have a First Amendment right to free speech to protest government action.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

You have been a great help. Thank you so much

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.

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