Tight Laws Put Many Local Areas Behind Trend

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So you want to get in on the urban chicken scene. But are you permitted to keep chickens? It depends on where you live and the size of your property. Generally, local laws make it tough or impossible to keep chickens in the city or suburbs. The basic requirements are detailed below. Residents may also have to obtain building permits, keep coops sanitary and observe noise ordinances.

Arlington County and Alexandria

Poultry cannot be kept closer than 100 feet from a neighboring lot line, a provision that essentially precludes chicken keeping. "You would need at least an acre," said Melinda Artman, zoning administrator. "There are very few properties in Arlington that would meet that standard."

Similar provisions apply in Alexandria, except the distance is 200 feet from a lot line.

The District

The city code does not allow residents to keep chickens.

Fairfax City

Chickens are allowed in residential districts R-1 and R-2. Animals can be kept no closer than 100 feet from a property line.

Fairfax County

Chickens are allowed only on lots of two acres or more, and henhouses cannot be closer than 100 feet from a neighboring property line.

Falls Church

Chicken keeping falls under requirements for stables, which must be 40 feet from a residence and have the written permission of the city manager, said Becky Keenan, the city's animal warden.

Montgomery County

A chicken coop can be no closer than 100 feet from neighboring structures where people live or work.

Prince George's County

If you live in the following residential zones, you will need a special exception to keep chickens: R-80, R-55, R-35 and R-20. If you live in the rural residential zone R-R, you will need a special exception if your lot is smaller than 20,000 square feet.

Adrian Higgins

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