HOA in the woods

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by TwoTree, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. TwoTree

    TwoTree New Egg

    Feb 5, 2013
    I am a volunteer for a committe that is concerned with maintaining guidelines concerning use or improvements on lots in our HOA. I know there are a lot of folks that don't seem to like HOAs, but our HOA is important because we have a community water system and a community park and greenbelt system. I don't like being told what to do with my property, but I think there are some good things HOAs can do to create a community environment. More and more I think that local ordances should apply though for a lot of cases. Our covenants, which include prohibition of keeping livestock including poultry, have been in existance since the 60s, and our community was originally so far out of town that it was considered viewed by the developers and first residents as a recreational community. Now it's a big mix, including a lot of families and modest homes. We are still very much adjacent to wildland areas, and are frequented by bears, rats, and other wildlife. I like the idea of keeping chickens; I only wonder if they (or more like their food and waste) will attract wildlife. Our committee is considering the keeping of chickens, and I am very interested to get some good references or suggestions for what are well reasoned allowances/limitations for keeping chickens.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I imagine you’ll understand what some consider well-reasoned allowances/limitations for keeping chickens will be considered intrusions by others. Some people will be opposed to any relaxation of the rules. It comes down to personal preference but also a lack of knowledge or just plain misinformation by some. Sometimes I just shake my head at some of the false information on this forum.

    Some people will take precautions to be considerate of their neighbors and some won’t care. Some will be careful how they house and manage the chickens to keep the smell and noise down, some won’t or will try to stretch the limits. If you make rules you have to enforce them. With some people that can become unpleasant. Then you have the issue of when you change a covenant that was in place when people moved in, you are essentially changing the rules of the game. It’s kind of hard to just sell and move out if a rule change upsets you. It’s not the same as taking your ball and going home to pout. Changing the rules of the game once it starts is not something to do lightly. Anyway, those issues are not what you asked.

    You already have all the predators around. If you set up a game camera you’d be surprised at what goes on in your neighborhood at night. To me, there are two issues with predators for you. People may not notice when some of these animals are prowling around at night, but they will notice if their chickens start being eaten. It’s really hard to build a bear-proof coop or run. So people are more likely to notice the animals that are already around.

    The other issue is that the chicken feed will practically always attract rodents, mice for sure and maybe rats. You can do things to minimize that like lock the feed up at night in a rodent proof container, but the chickens will spill enough feed in the bedding to attract them. And I see mice in the coop during the daytime. These mice will attract certain predators which might also eat eggs or even chickens. I have a continuous mouse trapping program going on to minimize the problem but I realize I will never totally eliminate them.

    I don’t know how big the lots are or what your community looks like or what the goals of chicken keeping might be. I can’t tell you what would be reasonable in your conditions, but I’ll throw out some ideas to consider.

    Minimum set-back distances for coops from either property lines or maybe from residences. This might help reduce noise or smell issues. As long as you can keep a coop and run dry, you can keep the smell way down. If the poop starts building up really thick it can start holding enough moisture to start to stink on its own. But the biggest problem could just come from rain. It’s really hard to keep a decent sized run dry when the weather sets in wet. Some people in suburbia clean the coop and maybe rake the run to remove poop on a daily basis to handle this potential problem.

    Allowing only hens can really help with the noise issue. Some people love hearing a rooster crow, even at 4:30 in the morning. That bothers other people.

    Do you allow chickens to free range or do you require them to be locked up at all times? If you don’t require them to be contained at all times, sometime, somehow, somewhere someone’s chicken will visit someone else’s property.

    Do you allow chickens to be butchered? The issue I’ll raise about this one is garbage pick-up. Would that create a problem for your community as far as dead animal parts in the garbage? This could cause bears to get into the garbage or might smell before it is picked up. Some landfills or collection centers have rules about this. Another part of this. How do people dispose of dead chickens? I’m sure they already do it with pet dogs, cats, and such. Anytime you deal with living animals you have to eventually deal with dead animals. That is just the way it is. And poop needs to be disposed of. To me, composting is a great way, but to someone managing chickens in suburbia to keep the smell down, they may get a lot of poopy bedding.

    Will you allow some type of commercial operation? You can control some of these by not allowing roosters or restricting the number of hens.

    How important is appearance to you and your community? Where I am pretty is not important but in suburbia it can be very important. Do you limit the coop and run height to the height of the fence, assuming everyone has a fence? Maybe you have some verbiage already that controls the appearance of outbuildings?

    You could require anyone that wants to have chickens to get a signature from any property owner that borders their property giving an OK, but what happens if somebody new moves in or if someone changes their mind?

    These are the issues I think you should consider. I have no way of knowing which ones are important to you or your community.
  3. chickmama1662

    chickmama1662 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2011
    Ridge runner, great job covering the bases!
  4. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    -agree! That 'bout covers it all.
  5. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    In most cases nuisances (such as the noise from a crowing rooster) are already covered by existing nuisance ordinances. The problem with letting city ordinances and code replace your HOA covenants are that the city can and does change ordinances. In 2000 we rewrote the CC&Rs for our HOA, and referenced the city's zoning ordinance by name. A few years later the city completely dumped the code and replaced it with a new one, with a different name.

    Our HOA has rules, but most have to do with things such as minimum square footage of the residence, wooden and strand wire fencing disallowed, all fencing must be sufficiently strong to keep any animals it is intended to retain inside the fence. Or rules relating to the common area. Or rules relating to governance of the association. The year before we voted in the new CC&Rs, a different committee hired a lawyer to rewrite them. About 90% of the association showed up at the meeting to vote on them to say "HELL NO!!!" The attorney had simply used boilerplate language of several hundred pages that essentially made much of what was already present in the neighborhood (such as chain link fencing), lists of approved plants, etc. We formed a new committee and took the old 20-ish page CC&Rs and rewrote them. They are currently about 18 pages. And very reasonable.
  6. TwoTree

    TwoTree New Egg

    Feb 5, 2013
    Thanks for t
  7. TwoTree

    TwoTree New Egg

    Feb 5, 2013
    I mean, thanks for the response ridgerunner. I also appreciate the follow up comments. Our covenants are fairly simple, but do prohibit animals like chickens. It would take a miracle to get things changed though. 51% of 650 members with notarized signature to approve a change. I'm thinking that everyone keeping chickens in our neighborhood could be problematic because of our 90 inches of rainfall per year and our disadvantaged topographic position relative to a ridge nearby. Cold and drenched for 7 solid months, cool and damp for 2, and decent for 4. Also the proximity to all sorts of beasts, large and small. As stated, the odds dictate there will be bad actors that cause issues. I'm thinking that not everyone will want to keep chickens, and those that go to the trouble of doing so will do a better than average job tending them. Status quo for now. I'm sure those that really want to have chickens will do it discretely without notice.

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