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Stafford County, VA

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Just wondering if anyone has been considering going to the county (again) to try and get a specific chicken ordinance outlined. I just read about a case in Oct 2015 where someone was turned in for having a few hens in their HOA neighborhood. They lost, but the board of appeals seemed interested in an ordinance getting on the books. What is most noteworthy is that the county is required to 'hear' any complaint, even anonymous over the phone. That sure is fodder for those who just want to be vengeful or control others without due cause. In the 2015 case it could not be determined just what the complaint was...could have been someone simply annoyed with an HOA violation, but regardless, perhaps the law on what comprises a legitimate complaint should be revised??

 

My opinion is that Stafford is antiquated with its lack of a clear chicken ordinance. It is rather embarrassing for the county to be behind Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg City if you ask me. Are we not interested in what is sweeping the nation insofar as self-reliance and consuming more natural foods?  Perhaps Stafford still wrongly thinks of chicken keeping as a country affair...not sophisticated...

 

Neighborhoods without HOA's should clearly be permitted to have hens.  I'm all for some regulations so we don't end up with a smelly mess in R1 zoned lots, and knowing Stafford, they'll slap an annual fee on those who want to have hens. If they can't profit from it, I'm sure it won't pass, so someone should conduct a search to see how much revenue it would bring in for the county. Also, to avoid the issue in Price William Co. there should not be a ban on killing your chickens. Just like if your dog is at the end of its life and people want to take care of it themselves, chickens won't end up dumped somewhere if folks can dispose of them when the time is right (no longer laying, unhealthy).

 

It is clear to me Stafford County doesn't want to have this be an issue, but it is only a matter of time. Someone tried in 2013 and then this latest case in Oct 2015. How long can Stafford Co. ignore this issue? Hens are enjoyable to watch (we all agree here!) and they keep bugs down, they produce healthy eggs, are very quiet compared to nearly every dog, and they don't pose a threat like some dogs (in my zip a pit bull viciously attacked a child in recent years-yet this is considered a pet and chickens aren't?? When is the last time you saw or heard of a chicken biting someone and requiring multiple grown men to contain?) I love my cat, but I can't contain her like a chicken either....

 

I hope someone in Stafford County stumbles upon this, or that those of us keeping chickens ,'quietly', will start to put pressure individually on the Board of Appeals or the Board of Supervisors. Perhaps we can start writing to our Board of Supervisors representatives. I think it is they who can change the way the definitions go or add an ordinance, but I am not certain. It is stated in the minutes of the article I referred to at the start of this note to you all:

 

http://staffordcountyva.gov/Search/Results?searchPhrase=chickens&page=1&perPage=10

 

Take care

Ann
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Ann
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post #2 of 8

I would love it if they made it legal.  We are going to have a few and the people behind us have a whole flock...no HOA in our neighborhood.

post #3 of 8

No need to ask the Stafford County BZA or Board of Supervisors to do a thing because there is nothing in the county code that disallows chickens.  A few people got it in their heads that you couldn't do it and then the zoning officers supported it by saying the mere presence of chickens indicate agricultural use.  That is wrong...

 

How do I know this?  We are the ones you referred to with the chickens in the HOA.  We didn't just give up and appealed to the Circuit Court and it upheld our position on March 11th, reversing the negative ruling made by the Board of Zoning Appeals...Yay!  

 

The number of chickens you can have is still a question, but if you look like you are "an operation devoted to the bona fide production of...animals, or fowl including the production of ...meat, dairy and poultry products" then you are probably using your land for agricultural use.  So be smart, don't open an egg stand, and keep your neighborhood clean and there should be no problem.  Of course owning a rooster will be subject to other laws, such as nuisance and noise ordinances, so stick with hens unless your neighbors don't mind the crowing.

 

Our HOA has no covenants or restrictions against chickens and rely on the county code for most residential uses.  I have no doubt someone will try to make a ruling, but they will have to grandfather in those of us who already have chickens.

 

I still have no idea what people are afraid of about chickens.  They'll make things up when asked, usually something about disease or waste runoff into the watershed, but we all know there's no disease or waste issues any different than those from the poop of Canadian Geese, dogs, cats, hawks, squirrels, foxes, etc.  Clean up after your pets and wash your hands!

 

So go get your chickens Stafford residents (and you're welcome),

 

Dan & Georgia

post #4 of 8
What are you zoned? I thought the county code said no foul in R-1 zoning?
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnr005 View Post

What are you zoned? I thought the county code said no foul in R-1 zoning?

Stafford County has no laws prohibiting chickens in any residential lot. The violation used to come in the form of claiming you were using your property for agricultural use if you had a chicken. That is not a true statement and the court has upheld that when we took it to appeal. We live in R2, which is suburban residential, but the law will apply (or won't apply) to all residential zoning.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Awesome :)

Ann
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Ann
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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Can you please send me anything you have in writing about the chicken issue? I just got word the county is coming to take pictures and is making my neighbor get rid of theirs b/c someone complained. I know we are legal but we're being told we have 2 days to deal with this...any help fast is appreciated. I'm in South Stafford.

Ann
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Ann
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post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by sneakychicken View Post
 

Can you please send me anything you have in writing about the chicken issue? I just got word the county is coming to take pictures and is making my neighbor get rid of theirs b/c someone complained. I know we are legal but we're being told we have 2 days to deal with this...any help fast is appreciated. I'm in South Stafford.

Hi!

 
I do not have anything in writing, but have been meaning to go to the courthouse for the records.  If anyone tried to take your chickens you might try to let them know that you know the Circuit Court Judge ruled that chickens were allowed on residential lots in Stafford and that the case was Eagan v. Board of Zoning Appeals if they want to look it up.  I assumed the county was made aware of the ruling, but perhaps not.  Tell them that if they take your chickens you will sue for harassment.
 
The violation usually stems from using your lot for agricultural purposes, but you said you had a complaint.  What was the complaint?
 
-Dan
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