Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Spotsy Planning Commission recommends chicken rule changes

Spotsylvania County is one step closer to allowing chickens in suburban areas.

The Planning Commission Wednesday night recommended zoning changes that would enable residents to have from two to six chickens in their backyards.

The county Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the proposal at a meeting in February.

The chickens would have to be kept in coops, based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation. Roosters would be prohibited.

Spotsylvania Supervisor Paul Trampe asked county staff to draft a proposal that would allow more residents to have chickens after hearing from Rachel Anderson.

Anderson bought three chickens earlier this year, only to receive a letter from the county in May telling her and her husband, Brian, to remove the hens from their 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.

During a public hearing Wednesday, Rachel Anderson told the Planning Commission that she’s not aware of any complaints about her chickens since then.

“My six-pound dog makes a whole lot more noise when she goes outside,” she said.

County staff had initially recommended that chickens be kept at least 25 feet from property lines. But Rachel Anderson said her yard isn’t big enough to satisfy that requirement, so the Planning Commission reduced it to 10 feet.

Chickens would also have to be kept at least 35 feet from other homes, based on the commission’s recommendation.

Spotsylvania resident Scott Cook told the Planning Commission: “Chickens have many enemies, but one of them shouldn’t be government.”

But not everybody thinks chickens belong in neighborhoods.

Spotsylvania resident Barbara Schell said she’s concerned about odor, noise and the effect on property values. “Let’s leave the farm in the country,” she said. “Let’s not bring it into the city where I have to smell it; I have to put up with it.”

The Fredericksburg City Council in August approved a proposal that allows residents to have chickens and bees. Chicken ownership has become popular nationwide as people look to raise local food.