Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's Up with Chickens in Richmond?

I contacted L M Cromwell through for an update on the efforts in Richmond to get chickens legalized. I explained that 4 Chesapeake Hens is mounting a similar effort here in Chesapeake, VA. We would obviously be overjoyed if our state capitol liberalized its chicken-keeping laws. She said she hasn't heard anything since the mayor's office sent her the following update about a month ago. The next Council Meeting in Richmond is on September 24, and she's hoping the issue will be on the agenda, although there's no confirmation of that yet. Here's the update:

After the council requested that the administration survey the current ordinances and zoning laws relating to the raising of chickens in the City, a team of individuals representing the Food Policy Task Force, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services, Animal Control, Planning and Development, Zoning Enforcement, the City Attorney, the Chief Administrator’s Office, the Richmond City Health Department and the Police Department was identified to review current practices in other cities and counties and to make recommendations to Council for revisions to current ordinances.

Those individuals have held several meetings and have developed a set of recommendations that I believe will address all of your concerns.  While not revealing the exact recommendations, I can tell you that:
                The recommendation does include a limit on the number of chickens
                It does not allow for the raising of roosters in the  city
                Although it does call for a permitting fee, I do believe the recommended fee is reasonable
                There are recommendations for coop distance to property lines
                There are recommendations for coop size and we are considering some restrictions on the design
                There are recommendations on the slaughtering of chickens

The next step is to present the recommendations to council in September.  At some point after that, there will be time allotted for public comment.

***Update on 9/30/12 from the Facebook Group "CHICKUNZ"

"As long as we keep up the pressure, it looks like a paper will be introduced on Oct 22nd(based on the CAO recommendation which was requested last May and presented in Sept). Then it would go to subcommittee (in November) before going back to Council for a vote. As long as residents keep speaking at meetings during the citizen comment periods and contacting their reps that they want a change, it may happen before December. We are looking at 2 months from now if all goes well-which may seem like a long time to residents, but it's really "close" for our city govt. ALL the updates (hoops we've jumped through working directly with Richmond Council since last December) are on the fb page too" (source).

**Update on 10/14/12 We received a link to the CAO's reports on chickens in Richmond. The CAO is the "Chief Administrative Officer" who works for the Mayor and City council there. These reports back up much of what our group has been telling the Mayor and City Council of Chesapeake. 

 Update: On November 20, Chesapeake City Council voted 6-3 to allow hens with certain restriction in residential areas. Richmond is still a work in progress.

**Update: on December 13, I received a message from the Richmond group that the Virginia Capitol is close to allowing up to four hens in a coop in urban backyards with certain restrictions. There will be a public hearing on January 28, 2013, and the group is hopeful to have hens legal by this summer. Here is the proposed ordinance, which was introduced on November 26, 2012. The ordinance promposes a $60.00 fee to have the hens, which the group hopes the City Council will consider reducing.

**Update in April of 2013: Richmond got a "hen ordinance" passed that allows up to four hens, no roosters, with certain restrictions. There's a $60.00 annual fee for the permit (ouch!) 

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