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Council approves chickens and bees


Fredericksburg residents will soon be able to raise chickens and honeybees at their homes.

The Fredericksburg City Council unanimously passed on first reading Tuesday night two  ordinances that would allow residents to keep up to four hens and two beehives.

This was brought to the City Council’s attention in May, when a petition with more than 700 signatures was presented to the council in support of allowing chickens and bees in residential neighborhoods.

The chickens must be housed in a covered enclosure or within a fenced area at all times, and they must be provided    with a clean, covered, well-ventilated enclosure that is secure from predators.

The chickens are not allowed to be slaughtered, and the eggs produced by the chickens may not be sold.

A person who wants to raise chickens must also obtain a license, which will be granted on a one-year basis as a trial period.

Beekeepers would  need to make sure they have a water source near the hive, because bees need fresh water and will go to the closest source—including a neighbor’s pool or wet laundry line.

There was disagreement among council members on what the setback should be for housing the chickens—it’s an issue that the city attorney will look into before the topic comes up for discussion on second reading, when it should be finalized.

The other public hearing of the evening that has drawn a large amount of public interest was about the controversial 79-home Telegraph Hill development planned for Lafayette Boulevard.

The entrance into the 29-acre site is almost directly across Lafayette from the southern entrance to Lee Drive and  Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and has generated concerns from several residents, the National Park Service,  the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust and the Civil War Trust.

The project received a positive recommendation from the Planning Commission last month.

Most of the concerns are over the additional traffic that the development will bring to Lafayette Boulevard and the impact it will have on the nearby Civil War park.

Russ Smith, the superintendent of the park, addressed the City Council on Tuesday night.

He asked the city and the developers to consider moving the entrance to the subdivision up the hill.

Representatives from the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust and the Civil War Trust, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, had concerns similar  to Smith’s.

Gary Nuckols, an attorney with Hirschler Fleischer, spoke on behalf of the applicant and defended the way the location of the subdivision   entrance was chosen.

He said that if the entrance was placed either above or below the proposed site, there would be traffic issues, particularly for traffic involved in turning into and out of the subdivision, along with problems with the nearby Blue and Gray Parkway and Alum Spring Drive.

The council took no action on the proposed subdivision, but it is scheduled for a vote at the council’s Sept. 18 meeting.

In other business, the council:

Gave Councilman Matt Kelly the go-ahead to enter discussions with the National Guard Association about restoring the cannon that sits in front of the fire station on Princess Anne Street.

Kelly said he would come back to the council with the conditions for the gun’s restoration and placement.

Saw a presentation about transitioning from a tax map ID system to Geographic Parcel Identification Numbers. This would change the way land is identified on city maps and would provide a more streamlined and systematic approach.

The system is already being used in several Virginia localities and throughout the nation.

For users of the Geographic Information System on the city’s website, parcels of land could be found by using either the old or new numbers.

Robyn Sidersky:  540/374-5413

The date the City Council will vote on Telegraph Hill has been corrected.