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Woman egging on chicken rule changes
Spotsylvania County to consider ordinance allowing chickens

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Date published: 8/27/2012

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

Rachel Anderson walks onto her deck and motions toward a 4- by 3-foot henhouse in her fenced-in backyard.

"This is what the hubbub is about," said Anderson, who lives off Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania County's Mill Garden subdivision.

She and her husband, Brian, received a letter from the county in May telling them to remove their three chickens from the property. The Zoning Office had received a complaint about the hens, which are allowed only on lots of at least 5 acres in agricultural and rural zoning districts.

Anderson thought that was ridiculous and contacted every member of the Board of Supervisors, most of whom have been supportive, she said.

Supervisor Paul Trampe, who visited her home, asked county staff to draft an ordinance allowing chickens in suburban areas.

For now, Anderson, 27, can keep her new pets--two Silkie chickens named Violet and Pippa, and a Wyandotte named Clementine.

Sometimes, she says, she'll set a blanket by the unassuming coop--which is shaded by trees--and watch her hens.

"I first wanted them as pets because I thought they were cute," said Anderson, who ordered the chickens in March from mypetchicken .com. She also plans to eat their eggs.

Planning Commission members recently discussed the issue and heard recommendations from county staff. Suggestions include mandating permits for fowl, requiring that they be at least 25 feet from property lines and setting a cap of six chickens per home.

Chickens would not be allowed to roam freely, and roosters would be prohibited, based on county staff's advice.

"As long as there is no early-morning rooster crowing and they are kept within the yard in a pen, which is kept clean, I see no reason why someone should not be able to keep them as pets if they want to," Trampe said.

Chicken ownership has become more popular nationwide as people look to raise local food.

The Fredericksburg City Council has been studying a proposal to allow residents to have chickens and bees. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday.

Many homeowners associations already restrict chickens, and local ordinances do not override those rules.

Spotsylvania Planning Commissioners John Gustafson and Richard Thompson said recently that they don't think a new ordinance would result in an influx of chickens in neighborhoods.


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