Frederick County Maryland Chickens and livestock laws and ordinances

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by CristinaB, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. CristinaB

    CristinaB Chirping

    Oct 15, 2013
    Knoxville Maryland
    So you have had issues with a neighbor? You are in a residential area and have been reported, or other issues concerning livestock on your property. I am here to help!

    Firstly, this thread mainly applies to those in the county. If you live in the cities (Brunswick, Frederick, etc) these places have their own ordinances and you must abide by those ordinances. I can help you find the information you need for these places in our county if you are having no luck, send me a PM.

    If you have been reported, DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR ANIMALS (unless you have been served and have not taken proper action, if this is the case, go see zoning today!). Animal control does not always know the ordinances in our county, especially when livestock is concerned. They know a lot about dogs and cats but when you are talking about Poultry, Game, Goats and such the lines get very fuzzy. Animal control does a great job in our county, and the few individuals working for Animal control are awesome people. Please do not take out your frustrations on them. This is their job and they should be treated with respect.

    So where should you start if you have been reported or have questions about the legality of your flock/livestock?

    Let's start with the laws; Frederick County Zoning Ordinances §§ 1-19-11.100, 1-19-8.325, and 1-19-3.210.

    In a nut shell you need to see if there is an issue with what you are doing/keeping and if any action is needed.

    What is your property zoned?

    If you are in a Resource Conservation, Residential or Planned Development District you may need to file for an Agricultural Exception. More about this later...

    Those zoned Agricultural are in the clear... you need to do nothing. You can keep livestock without needing permission.
    If you are living in the county, and your property has more than 3 acres you are also allowed to keep livestock (look up "right to farm" on the county website for more on this). You must still abide by the rules of your HOA or city if you live in one. This only applies to the county.

    How do you know what zone your property is in? Go to: and search for your property. If you are a property owner you should have a copy of your deed which will give you a Tax Map and Parcel Number making this much easier, but if you do not have this information, it is possible to search by street.

    So if you have discovered your property is less than 3 acres, you are zoned residential and you are worried about losing your animals. You can take action to keep your animals, Frederick county approved an ordinance revision in 2011 called the Limited Agricultural Activity.

    Please note that you should do this BEFORE there are issues with your neighbors, save yourself the pain and frustration, do this when there are no conflicts. If you are already in conflict and came here for help, read on!

    To gain this exception you must be a property owner, there is an application found here: Application 7-2013_201307010808561069.pdf

    You will need to make a trip down to the zoning office at 30 North Market Street in Frederick Maryland and talk to a zoning person there. The two persons I spoke to were very helpful and will provided me with everything I needed including sample letters and an explanation of deadlines and processes. There are forms that are not found on the website that you will need. Talking to a zoning clerk will get you far, visit zoning first.

    The application must include the following:
    1. A letter of Justification
    2. A Copy of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation print out (see link in the section explaining how to figure out your zone)
    3. A concept plan and illustrative notes and other supporting documents
    4. A list containing the names and addresses of all persons who own property on all sides of your property.
    5. A check for $100 to file for the exception

    The letter of Justification must include the following points:
    1. Address of property
    2. Existing zoning of the property
    3. Proposed use under the zoning ordinance
    4. Application sections of the zoning ordinance, for the use proposed
    5. General or specific criteria
    6. Other relevant information specific to the request (your story!)

    The concept plan is a drawing and any other supporting documentation such as photos or plans. You can trace out the assessment map used when you purchased your property, simplify it to include things like location of your animal housing and the locations of your lot lines.

    Also important to consider--- Your animal pens and housing must be 50 or more feet from all property lines! This means if you are not currently housing your animals within these guidelines you will need to move the housing to a suitable location. This can be difficult for those who live on a small lot. Be honest about the current locations of your housing and write a proposal that explains your plan to move it to a suitable location. Give a estimated and generous timeline to get this done.

    You will be required to provide many copies of your statement and your concept plans. Once the application is submitted the folks at the zoning office will give you a placard to post in a place that all can see. They will also give you the dates of the site visit and will send a copy of your application and justification statement to all of your neighbors.

    You will not be allowed to interact with the zoning board members on the date of the site visit. It is a good idea to stake out any proposed housing or pens for them to find the areas easily.

    Be sure to visit and talk to all neighbors about your request. If you are in conflict with a particular neighbor, address this in your justification letter and be prepared to talk about these issues on your hearing date. Demonstrating that you understand your neighbors complains and concerns and are willing to address them is a favorable thing to do. Do not enter this process with a sense of entitlement, it will only make things more difficult.

    Before 2011 any person in a residential district was forced to remove their animals if zoned residential with less than 3 acres. It is an HUGE step in the right direction for Frederick County to allow us a chance to file for an Agricultural exception, be thankful!

    It takes about 90 days to get through the entire process. During this time you will not be molested or given any more notices from the zoning board. The Animal control officers will also not pursue you further during the time it takes for the request to be submitted unless your animals are at large or outside of your property. Keep your livestock under close supervision, give no reason for your neighbors to complain during this process.

    Your neighbors have the option to come to the hearing to speak against you or on your behalf. You will be allowed 15 minutes to address the board, prepare a speech to stay on track and practice answers to any questions the board may have. Be respectful! Those who come to support you will be given 4 minutes to speak their mind and those who are against you will also be given 4 minutes. Bring support if possible.

    Once a decision is made the exception will stay with your property indefinitely, even if you sell the property. If you are denied the exception you have the option to appeal.

    While I know that there are several others suffering from frustration and stress due to nosy neighbors and such. This is a wonderful option that gives us the opportunity to continue to keep our flocks and animals without conflict. Stay within the laws in your county and things will be much less stressful.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. Frederick County folks stop in and let me know if this helped you or not and say hello! It is important for us to support each other. I would love to hear from others in my county that keep chickens and hear your stories. Good luck to all!
    aelfswythe and FergieChick like this.
  2. MigraineMan

    MigraineMan Chirping

    Mar 11, 2017
    Frederick, Maryland
    Definitely good info. We are ag-zoned, and recently deployed our chickens outdoors. Recently received our Chicken License from the State (don't forget to register your flock with MD Dept. of Agriculture.) It's printed on heavy stock, and includes a red vinyl holster for the wallet card. (I s'pose that makes sense if you intend to show your birds at a County fair.)

    Attached Files:

  3. EZGoat

    EZGoat In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2019
    Hi Cristina, thank You for posting this and the information your share, I know this was a long time ago but I was hoping to get in touch with You if at all possible I have a few questions I wonder You might be able to answer.

    Thanks, EZ.
  4. Tristan6991

    Tristan6991 Hatching

    Mar 20, 2019
    Hey I live in Brunswick Maryland and I'm trying to get a permit for my ducks but i cant find out where i need to go or really what i need to do. Can you help me out?

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