Getting zoning information


11 Years
May 27, 2010
Northeast Nebraska
I am a professional zoning administrator for two counties and five towns in Nebraska. If you are seeking information on zoning in your area (remember raising chickens aren't always a zoning issue can be addressed in other code, ordinances or regulations as well), go to the zoning administrator and talk to them one on one about what you want to do or just raise chickens unless you specifically know it is illegal. Just make sure your coop doesn't need a building permit since many small buildings (under 100 sq. feet generally) don't. If you don't need a building permit for the coop, go for it. Generally, most people like me will not pursue prosecution unless it is generated by a complaint. The keys to getting ratted on other than having a nosy neighbor in the case of chickens is smell. Take care of your coop, get rid of your manure by composting, putting in the garbage or taking it out of town to a farm or place that will take it. I would recommend not giving the manure to anybody in your town to put on their garden or whatever, because they might not take proper care of it or worse case, stockpile it until spring or fall before applying to their garden. In this case it will be their neighbor that complains, not yours. The zoning person like me will find the source of the manure and if it is illegal shut it down.

One other hint, if your town is in the process of adopting a new zoning ordinance, get your chickens in and document the date through receipts, etc. Once the new zoning laws pass, you can claim "grandfather" status and prove it as well. One thing that will over rule grandfather status is nuisances, so keep things clean and and don't let your manure stink and handle it responsibly.

Use your head before just doing it however. If you are on a small lot where the neighbor can hear your dinner conversations if you have your windows open, or don't have a fence, or have to get a building permit for your coop, you had better find out the rules. If your town is very active in prosecuting zoning offenders (actually rare without a complaint, but it does happen) play by the rules or change the rules through amendments to local laws. Don't get greedy, you want a few chickens, not a chicken farm and that will help.

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