Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Spotsylvania may allow backyard chickens countywide

The Spotsylvania County Planning Commission is weighing in on a proposal to allow backyard chickens countywide.

The measure is in response to an advisory opinion last September by then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who said Spotsylvania overstepped its bounds by permitting the chickens in some voting districts but prohibiting them in others.

The Planning Commission was scheduled to vote on the new proposal Wednesday evening but tabled its decision until February. Commissioner Mary Lee Carter wanted to consider limiting the chickens on lots of less than an acre in more densely populated zoning districts.

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which will have the final say.

Early last year, the supervisors approved an ordinance  that lets a person apply for a permit to keep two to six chickens in backyard coops. But the ordinance allows the chickens in just four of the county’s seven voting districts.

The other districts—Battlefield, Berkeley and Lee Hill—retained the previous, more restrictive countywide rule that permits chickens only on agricultural and rural lots of at least five acres. The supervisors in those districts—two of whom have since left office—opposed the relaxed chicken policy.

Cuccinelli, who issued an opinion at the request of County Attorney James Benkahla, wrote that the ordinance treats people in the same zoning district differently. Spotsylvania planning staff is recommending approval of the proposal to allow backyard chickens countywide.

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