Supervisors, amid laughter, approve chicken measure
Monday’s 5-1 vote came after months of on-again, off-again consideration of whether the measure would remove unneeded restrictions from residents’ lives — or would have government intrude further into their business.
Montgomery County’s residential zoning had barred chickens. Supervisor Chris Tuck, who proposed the ordinance to allow the birds into some of these areas, argued that he was letting more residents have a choice about raising their own eggs and meat. At one meeting, he brought cartons of eggs from his own small flock — kept on land zoned for agriculture — for supervisors who’d indicated support for the measure.
Supervisor Gary Creed didn’t like provisions in Tuck’s proposed ordinance that limited chickens in residential zones to owner-occupied properties of at least two acres in size. Residents of smaller properties might depend more on chickens for sustenance — and many probably already kept chickens anyhow, he said.
If their neighbors didn’t complain, why should supervisors get involved, Creed asked at one meeting. At another, he predicted that sanctioning chickens in more neighborhoods would lead to more complaints about dogs eating the birds, and to the possibility that more dogs would be put down by county officers.
The possibility of residential chickens prompted public outcry in nearby localities in recent years, but few residents spoke out during Montgomery County’s debate.
Besides Tuck and Creed’s contentions, supervisors at various points raised concerns about chickens’ potential to be nuisances or make messes or attract raccoons and other predators.
But at Monday’s meeting, four supervisors sided with Tuck.
Supervisors Chairman Jim Politis was not at the meeting, and Creed cast a lone vote against the measure after almost not voting at all.
Creed first said he would abstain from the vote. But when Supervisor Annette Perkins looked over and intoned “chicken” into her microphone — and other board members and onlookers hooted — Creed responded that he was voting “No.”
Montgomery County’s new rule in some ways mirrors measures adopted last year in Salem and Roanoke County. It allows people with owner-occupied properties of two acres or larger in zonings R-1, R-2, R-3, TND, and PUD-RES to keep up to six hens. Roosters are not allowed, and eggs and meat are to be for “the household’s personal enjoyment only,” with on-site sales expressly banned.
Other requirements include a permanent, predator-resistant coop; safe storage of feed and removal of waste; and location of chicken enclosures only in the rear of a property with a minimum 50-foot setback from neighbors. Residents must also obtain a zoning permit to keep the birds.
By Mike GangloffThe Roanoke Times | 381-1669