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Kyle Green | The Roanoke Times 4/23/2012 A hen named Gabby (one of three chickens owned by Maggie) is pictured in the backyard of Maggie Newman's house in Salem, Virginia. After making a run at banning chicken keeping in the city a year ago, Salem’s leaders have reversed course and embraced the idea of urban agriculture. A draft of a new ordinance would allow residents to keep up to 6 chickens (no roosters), but with requirements for setbacks from property lines for coops and other regulations, and, with the welfare of the chickens themselves in mind, requirements for coop and roaming space for each chicken.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
After Salem and Roanoke County passed ordinances last year allowing chickens in residential neighborhoods, there were no headlines squawking “Chickens gone wild in Salem” or “Roanoke County supervisors have egg on their faces.”
There’s been nary a peep out of Salem, although county officials say they’ve heard some complaints. Overall, though, the aftermath has been pretty subdued, even dull.
Montgomery County residents need not fear foul play now that their leaders have succumbed to poultry peer pressure and granted permission for homeowners to keep a few hens on hand for eggs and fried drumsticks.
We have expressed concerns in the past over proposals to allow chickens in Blacksburg and Christiansburg given the potential for conflict in the close quarters of the towns’ neighborhoods.
But county officials have carefully tailored their ordinance to avoid any kerfluffles. Chickens are allowed only on residential lots of two acres or more, and homeowners are limited to six hens. Rowdy roosters are still relegated to agricultural areas of the county.
The hens cannot rampage around the yard, but must be housed in predator-resistent coops at least 50 feet away from the property line.
Feed must be stored securely to avoid attracting mice, and poultry poo must be disposed of properly. A zoning permit is required so that county officials can keep track of the surburban birds.
On-site sales are prohibited, so there will be no lemonade-and-Buffalo wing stands erected in suburban front yards this summer.
Montgomery’s rules are similar to and even a bit stricter than other chicken ordinances adopted recently in the region, as well as rules that have been in place for years.
In Roanoke, a long-time ordinance allows up to 10 “poultry animals” even on the smallest city lots.
Back yard chickens have become as trendy as Twitter thanks to the locavore movement and demand for organic foods.
Urban and suburban dwellers are demanding that their elected leaders free them from styrofoam containers and greasy nuggets.
The people of Montgomery have spoken, and they want their eggs sunny side up, hold the hormones, please.
Montgonery County supervisors should take satisfaction that their bird-friendly ordinance is made to order.
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