Two chicken enthusiasts who sued the District for the right to keep their birds have triumphed.
Antitrust lawyers Allison Sheedy and Daniel McInnis keep four chickens in the back yard of their 10,000-square-foot Chevy Chase double lot. The birds, much beloved by the couple’s four children, are kept in a wooden coop beneath a holly tree, where the kids search for eggs each morning.
The family sued after receiving notice in April from the city’s Department of Health that their chickens would have to be removed, saying city regulations prevent building a coop within 50 feet “of any building used for human habitation.” They argued that although the regulation might rule out a coop for a D.C. rowhouse, it didn’t apply to their property.
Now, after declining to confiscate the chickens, the Department of Health has reluctantly backed down and given the couple a license.
“While the Department of Health does not agree that the regulations currently published . . . are still valid . . . the Department of Health is willing to issue a permit for 4 domestic chickens, for egg production purposes only,” health department Director LaQuandra S. Nesbitt wrote in a July 25 letter to the couple.
The Department of Health did not reply to a request for comment on Friday, and the D.C. Office of the Attorney General declined comment.
Sheedy and McInnis said that they were satisfied with the outcome, and that their children were “thrilled.”
“As taxpayers, and as parents who support D.C. public schools, we are glad that the city ultimately had the common sense not to spend its resources litigating but can use those resources for better uses,” they wrote in an emailed statement. “We have heard from many people that there is a lot of interest in D.C. in keeping chickens, fresh eggs and generally having the District of Columbia be a progressive and environmentally friendly city.”
The couple added that they hoped the city would clarify or amend existing chicken regulations.