Can you see a loop hole in this ordinance?


10 Years
May 28, 2009

I live in Hardyston twp, NJ which pretty much semi-rural, there are lots of forest. Anyway, my zoning department told there were no chickens allowed, but despite this I went ahead and got some chicks. The zoning officer directed me to the below code, that he says does not allow chickens.

Agricultural uses.
Farms, including customary farm occupations and lands which qualify as farmlands, as defined herein, shall be subject to the following regulations:

A. Buildings utilized for horticulture, nurseries, greenhouses and for the growing, raising, harvesting and sale of agricultural crops or for any other farm use shall be not less than 100 feet from any side or rear lot line, except that residential buildings may be constructed and located in conformity with the standards for residences within those districts in which they are located.

B. No pigs, poultry or fowl shall be permitted except where incidental to the major agricultural activity.

I am thinking the loophole is that this code addresses Farms and not necessarily residential properties. I am just having the chicken for my personal use. Also, on the "customary farm occupatons", I say that if they use this, they would have to also banned people from growing tomatoes, and vegetables in a home garden as these activities can be seen as a customary farm occupations.

And lastly, line B, where it says no pigs, poultry or fowl shall be permitted except where incidental to the major agricultural activity. I say these sections is only pertinent to farm, which it states in the opeing paragraph. So if my property is not a farm, then this ordinance does not apply to me.

What do you guys think.. What is your interpretation

B. No pigs, poultry or fowl shall be permitted except where incidental to the major agricultural activity.

If your major agricultural activity is selling eggs, then having chickens would be incidental to your major agricultural activity?
redoak : Thank you for the reply, but I don't think you got my question. I don't qualify as a farm, all I have is 1 acre property. In NJ, to qualify as a farm you need to have 5 acres or more and generate an income of a couple of thousand dollars a year.

I am just a home owner who want to raise chickens and I was looking through the codes to see if there is a loop hole in it that I can point out to the town, if and when I am discovered.
I agree with you 100% and recently did the same thing, although I didn't bother to check the zoning ahead of time. It does seem to me that you don't fall into what's quoted in Part A as you won't be selling eggs or making any type of profit off your land pertaining to the raising of chickens and Part B seems only to apply to those that already ARE zoned agriculture and have a farm.

Weird laws. If they are still giving you a hard time, try doing a search to see what pets are legal to keep in your residence in New Jersey. I'm sure it can't be illegal to keep a chicken ... it just depends on what you do with said chicken and said chicken's eggs and that's where the problem comes in.

Good luck to you! I'm in the same boat ... zoned residential but I live on half acre. There's no building going on out here, there is only one other house on my street. A neighbor two streets away has a goat, for crying out loud.

Try to be courteous of whatever neighbors you may have. Maybe offer them some fresh eggs as a peace offering. Keep us posted! I'm curious to see what will happen! I hope it will just be brushed under the proverbial rug.
This is very strange--it seems to be outlawing all poultry farms.

Yes, it does not address anything except farms, and if they are defines as five or more acres with a minimum income, then it does not apply to you. However, you do need to check for uses that are allowed in your zoning. There may be a different section that applies.
If your not considered a farm I'd say the ordinances don't apply to you. But if they consider you a farm because you have "livestock" I was trying to point out a way around the ordinance.
Something to consider as well ...

In Florida (Sarasota County), chicken/poultry laws don't fall under zoning, they fall under the deed restrictions for your area. In the deed for your property, it would say something like "Lot whatever Block whatever Area whatever does not allow the raising of poultry or the keeping of any farm animal" blah blah blah.

It may not specifically be in a code or ordinance but rather restrictions in your deed itself. Just another heads up.

Again, good luck!
I'm a land use planner by trade, and this is my interpretation of what the current zoning text is trying to say...

If you are allowed to have a farm (meaning your property is actually zoned for agricultural use), then you may have chickens as an accessory use to the farm. As long as the chickens fit into a farming scenario some way they would be allowed.

Do you know the zoning designation of your property? Do you have acreage or are you in the city?
You need to check what it says in terms of residential property. There may be another set of exclusions there. The section you quoted does not pertain to you. This is an attempt to keep out large factory farms, I expect.

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