A proposed whitetail deer farm was given the go ahead by the West Penn Township zoning hearing board Tuesday night. Gwynne Frymyer, the owner of a 24.6 acre parcel at 143 Blue Mountain Drive, submitted a request for variance to be allowed to turn approximately six acres of that parcel into a commercial deer farm. The area is currently zoned as suburban residential, which does not allow for animal husbandry.

Frymyer's request included plans to construct six one acre pens, with eight foot fences, and a 1,200 square foot pole building. Frymyer is currently licensed and permitted by the State as a cervid livestock operator. She currently owns 20 deer that she keeps on a property in New Brunswick Township, however, she explained that she only plans to keep approximately 10 deer on the property in West Penn.

Zoning board solicitor Holly Heintzleman questioned how many animals could be housed at one time on the property. Frymyer said she intends to breed the animals, although the fawns would not be kept longer than four months, however this could mean up to as many as 30 animals on the property at one time. According to Frymyer, the State recommendations from the Department of Agriculture are no more than 1,000 pounds of animal per acre.

The board heard from several neighbors, including the property manager of an adjacent trailer park. Although they had several questions, all of them indicated that they were not opposed to the farm. One neighbor questioned whether the eight foot fences would be adequate to contain the deer. Frymyer said that eight feet is the minimum recommendation from the State, however, she agreed to install a ten foot fence and discussed other options for placing guide wires or turning the top of the fence inward if it is not sufficient. "I don't want to lose deer either," she added.

The board also discussed a need for manure management and the potential for water contamination from the runoff from the property. Frymyer agreed to consult with soil erosion and control about the matter to determine what is required for the property. She explained that the amount of manure generated by the animals would be minimal and her current plan was to handle it by on-site composting.

Additionally, Frymyer will be required to file all of her licenses and permits with the township office, keep those permits and licenses up to date, and comply with all local, county, federal and state regulations that are applicable to the property.