Friday, December 30, 2011

Longing for Urban Chickens

I live in Chesapeake, Virginia, which does not currently allow poultry anywhere except in areas zoned for agriculture. There is a national movement to raise "micro-flocks" of laying hens for their eggs in backyard spaces, even in urban centers. New York City even allows hens, and more and more people are keeping them as backyard pets. I have read City Chicks and other publications about responsible chicken keeping, and I could really use the hens' help in my garden. Properly managed, they eat pests and weeds and provide fertilizer to compost  for the garden while providing fresh, nutritious eggs and plenty of entertainment. They are as easy to keep as a cat. Unlike roosters, they are quiet, and they do not need roosters to lay eggs. Any hens I raised would have much happier, healthier lives than the poor animals raised in CAFOs for the mass-produced markets. I've started a Facebook Page for like-minded Chesapeake residents who would like to join forces with me in getting changes made to the law. If a resident and interested, like the page or leave me a comment here.

Update for 2012: We took some advice from City Chicks and actually found and read the animal-related laws in Chesapeake's municipal code. We might be able to have up to four "pet" chickens depending on our zoning, easements, etc. We plan to check on this when we can.

Update for February, 2012. We discovered that to have chickens in Chesapeake one must have at least 3 acres of land, which, alas, we do not. There is a petition to allow urban chickens in nearby Virginia Beach, VA. If Virginia Beach allows them, perhaps Chesapeake could be next? Needless to say, we are supporting the petition.

Update for March, 2012. The Facebook Page has 17 "likes" and some folks besides me posting on it, asking questions, and even a few tentative offers to help. I tend to be a "doer," so I have a hard time understanding the delay in storming City Hall, lol! I got a good suggestion to post flyers at the local feed stores that sell chicks. I am also researching the space requirements for a few chickens. Hint: it's A LOT less than three acres! But that's fodder for another post.

Update for April, 2012. The Facebook page has 30 "likes" and our group's online petition on has 58 signatures in three days as I type this. This video on underground chickens recently shared on the Facebook page shows how clean and well kept the birds can be and how much families can enjoy them. I hope the petition gets enough attention from actual Chesapeake residents. I suspect local voters will have the most clout with city council members.

Update for July, 2012. We have over 130 fans on our Facebook page, and the petition has reached its goal of over 500 signatures. Actually, we have close to 600. We got some positive publicity on Channel 3, WTKR news recently. We have one council member, Robert Ike, who is completely supportive, and there is real hope we can get this thing before the City Council in coming weeks.

Update for November, 2012: City Council voted on November 20 for TA-Z-12-07 with changes to allow up to six hens and with the removal of the privacy fencing requirement. Now all Hubby has to do is build us a coop! The ordinance comes with a one-year sunset clause. Council must vote by December 20, 2013 to keep the ordinance, or residents' rights will lapse. Those who already have them will be "grandfathered," however.

Update for November, 2013: City Council voted on November 26, 2013, to make the ordinance permanent. The vote was 6-3, with Council Members Debbie Ritter, Rick West, and Vice Mayor John De Triquet voting against the ordinance.

Oh, and our Facebook page has over 1,000 fans! Wow!

No comments:

Post a Comment