Sunday, August 19, 2012

John De Triquet's "No" Vote Explained

I belong to a grass-roots organization, 4 Chesapeake Hens, that is trying to change local zoning laws to allow more residents to keep micro-flocks of laying hens.  At Chesapeake, Virginia's, last City Council Meeting, only one Council Member voted against Robert Ike's resolution to move the "hen issue" to the Planning Commission. That member was Dr. John De Triquet.

I took the liberty of emailing Dr. De Triquet regarding his rationale for the "no" vote. Here is his timely and well-considered response:

First let me compliment you and everyone who has addressed City Council on this item. Everyone made their case with clarity, courtesy, and civility. It was very refreshing since this is not always the circumstance.
  Let me address the issue at hand. I have always felt that when folks choose to live in neighborhoods they have certain expectations. Paramount in those expectations is that new activities which may run counter to those expectations will be critically considered before any changes are made. I think that before any changes in allowable activities in residential neighborhoods are approved, there should be a clear and overarching public need or interest.
  I've been very consistent with this opinion over the years. I've not supported allowing home beauty salons, lawn mower repair, and many other activities in residential areas. In fact at the next Council Meeting a request is being made to allow a home salon in a residential area. I intend to vote against this request.
  I hope this in some way explains my position. As I hope you can see it really is not predicated on anything specific to a few hens in the back yard. It is, however, based on my overall responsibility to preserve and protect the expectations of homeowners in residential areas.
  Having said this, should City Council approve your request I wish you and all your friends the very best in this activity that I know you all love.

 At least we understand his point of view now. I have posted my response to his letter in a follow-up post.

 Update: On November 20, Chesapeake City Council voted 6-3 to allow hens with certain restriction in residential areas. De Triquet was one of the three Council members who voted against the ordinance. The others were Council Members West and Ritter.


  1. It was nice of him to respond, and so politely, too.

    His examples are of people who want to run businesses as opposed to having specific pets. Big difference.

    There should be a balance of course, between using our property as we see fit and not infringing on the rights of others. Hard to legislate and hard to enforce. Seems the avoid the difficulty of enforcement they've just chosen to ban many things.

    Did you know having a skateboard 'half-pipe' in your back yard is against zoning laws? How would that effect the neighbors? They even have laws controlling flag poles, basketball hoops, etc.


  2. Valerie, I can understand all that under a residential association, but I can't see it under zoning laws. I don't see how they affect the neighbors at all.

    I can see having a law against setting up a basketball hoop on the streets, however. That can be an issue with traffic. But as far as one's own property?

    I was pleased to get the polite responses, too.

  3. Valerie, I thought of your observations when I read this today. It was about a zoning dispute over a grave site, but this generalization applies to our petition:

    "...lawsuits over the use of eminent domain actions and zoning restrictions are becoming more common as the U.S. population grows," said Joseph Snoe, who teaches property law at Samford University in suburban Birmingham.

    "The United States Supreme Court has said that the states, and the cities through the states, have the power to regulate. But if it goes too far ... then the government's got to pay, and there are certain things the government just doesn't have the power to do," he said. "As we get bigger and as government gets bigger and as people are more regulated ... you start having more and more disagreements."