How to address an issue....

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by VivianL, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. VivianL

    VivianL Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a public hearing next week regarding our current zoning law on the keeping of chickens.

    1. Nothing prohibits the keeping of said chickens.
    2. No current limitations on number of chickens.
    3. But... zoning says that any structure that houses the chickens can not be within 100 feet of a property line. We have 1/2 an acre and are within village lines.

    So.... I have to apply for an area variance requesting permission to use our current shed to house the wanted 3 hens. Technically we can build a tractor coop and since its not permanent it won't fall under the restriction (per village lawyer).

    Now I've talked to the neighbors that directly boarder us (one being on the village zoning board) and none have an issue with the chickens ... one even Thanked me for doing this. I have talked to a woman a few blocks away that just went through this and was granted permission on a probationary period (they will re-review it this fall to see if any of her neighbors have any complaints).

    So where I"m going here is.... One of our neighbors who does not directly border us is back home from being out of state for the winter months. I got a chance to talk to him today (official notice has gone out to the neighbors and we have a lovely sign in our front yard "Public Hearing Notice" ) and asked if he had any concerns that I might be able to address. His concern was not so much the chickens although he said he did go up and talk to the building supervisor to find out that there are no restrictions on having chickens (his first concern as he feels that issue should be addressed - now another person is currenlty fighting to change the law in favor of keeping - essentially get it on the books that it is okay instead of having it so grey area) . He was rather suprised at that as he felt that it no longer made the area seem residential - and I know this is a common feeling among the zoning board. He felt that if one of our direct neighbors were to sell their home a potential buyer would not be interested if we had chickens here... making it feel less residential and more farmy. Well I can see his side but don't agree and kept friendly.. after all my goal is to gain info and know what I'm going to deal with at the meeting. I do have several coming in support (or so I hope). So... can anyone give me some polite responses to address the concern of 'what if potential buyers wouldn't like living next to my 3 chickens'. Personally I don't see how 3 chickens looses a residential feel especially when we are on all large lots... (my yard is fully fenced). I'm not talking 50 chickens here.... I have experience keeping birds (parrots) so know about proper care of keeping birds (I will care for the chickens as pets) and truly I can't worry about the 'what ifs' down the road.

    Any advice is appreciated. Basically I know I'm going to have to fight for the right to have chickens....even though that really isn't the issue... its the structure. I'd like to use the shed as its already there and we can do the modifications to the inside that we willneed to do without adding another structure to the property and I will be building a moveable enclosure that will attach to the side of the shed... but as mentioned... able to move as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  2. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    First of all, if you have a playhouse your your children/grandchildren, etc. or a potting shed, or a storage building, and gthe chickens just happen to use it to sleep in...

    Apparently they can free range throughout your yard without there being an issue. Sounds like they could be penned without there being an issue--you just can't contain them to a structure.

    Find out the legal definition of "structure." It is probably defined, and that definition may well include a minimum size. For example, is a child's 4x4 playhouse a structure--legally? How about a 6x8 storage building? etc.

    As far as the idea that some people would view chickens in the neighborhood as detrimental to purchasing a home; an equal number would be attracted to the idea. I know that the agriculturally zoned residential neighborhoods in my city go for a premium, finding a house for sale in them is hard, and they usually sell rapidly.
     
  3. BasenjiFan

    BasenjiFan Out Of The Brooder

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    First, I'm sorry you have this headache to deal with.

    I think it may be wise to stress that you intend to own only three pet hens. These birds are quiet, they will not create a livestock stench, and they will be confined to your property (no free-ranging in the neighbors' yards). In all probability, any potential buyers would not even notice three such unobtrusive pets.

    Unfortunately, that is a bit of a deflection of the question. However, it may work, and it is a valid point. People who are not chicken-savvy may not know just how quiet hens are, they might think all chickens crow, and they may not realize that there is a difference in the smell of three chickens versus three-hundred chickens.

    If they insist on being unreasonable, and make you address the "what-if," I haven't a clue how to answer that politely. I'd be tempted to tell them that the prospective buyers should probably consider a city apartment if they don't want to live next to three hens. It's like not wanting to live next to a neighbor with a dog. Or not wanting wild birds to be anywhere near their house. On second thought, perhaps such buyers should ask if hospital rooms are available for renting. [​IMG]
     
  4. HennysMom

    HennysMom Keeper of the Tiara

    Okay, maybe I'm not understanding something here but... I have a few questions and concerns.

    1. if your laws state you can have them and you are in compliance with all said laws - why are you even asking your neighbors permission or even posting a sign that states "Public Hearing"? YOU have the right to have them and YOU pay your mortgage, not your neighbors. If they change the laws later down the line..you are grandfathered in from what I'm to understand.

    2. your shed is an existing structure - so why would you need a permit to house them and/or approval? It was there when you purchased the house to begin with, correct? [​IMG] Not understanding that one... a permit had to be issued for that shed prior to it going up given its a permenant structure... no further permit is required.

    3. If "new neighbors" looking to purchase a house in your neighborhood "dont like your chickens" - well too bad. they arent buying YOUR house are they? No... and again, no laws saying you cant have them.

    I just dont understand why people feel the need to ask permission of gov't officials and neighbors when they are clearly in the right to own animals when the law states they can. No one asks you when they can get a dog, cat, goldfish, snake, etc...or even when they can pay their bills or drive their car.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. VivianL

    VivianL Out Of The Brooder

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    1. if your laws state you can have them and you are in compliance with all said laws - why are you even asking your neighbors permission or even posting a sign that states "Public Hearing"? YOU have the right to have them and YOU pay your mortgage, not your neighbors. If they change the laws later down the line..you are grandfathered in from what I'm to understand.

    We wouldn't be in compliance: This isn't a request for a permit.. its a zoning variance. If I have the support of my neighbors I have a better chance against the zoning board. We wouldn't be in compliance and could risk having to get rid of the chickens ... the current zoning says... no structure used to shelter chickens or other farm animals can not be any closer than 100ft to a property line. Our lot is not large enough to allow for this... hence the request for a variance.

    2. your shed is an existing structure - so why would you need a permit to house them and/or approval? It was there when you purchased the house to begin with, correct? hu Not understanding that one... a permit had to be issued for that shed prior to it going up given its a permenant structure... no further permit is required.

    No permit needed. Although the building supervisor tried to tell me that the previous owners may have put the shed up without a permit...okay.. so what.... I'll get a permit for the structure that is already there... now I haven't heard further on it so I'm guessing he was wrong. My hubby even joked that if they said the shed has to be 10feet away (like they did to someone else but that person is building a shed)... we'll drag it over a few more feet, haha.

    I just dont understand why people feel the need to ask permission of gov't officials and neighbors when they are clearly in the right to own animals when the law states they can. No one asks you when they can get a dog, cat, goldfish, snake, etc...or even when they can pay their bills or drive their car.

    Well we didn't want to risk doing it... spending the money on the building materials... getting into everything and then someone showing up ... like many times.... and saying get rid of the chickens. And it all comes down to uptight suburban communities. Never mind the work we did to fix up the property... no town officials say... hey nice work... nah... they just want a chance to get some more money out of us if they can... afterall... gotta pay for that application to the zoning board. Honestly all this BS makes me want to put the house up for sale.... and find lots of acreage. It is funny though because neighbors in places like this generally don't want to do anything with ya... other than one set I barely know anyone around here... and they couldn't say anything about knowing a thing about us.... but some sure do what their say in matters that won't really even affect them.​
     
  6. South Hill Chickens

    South Hill Chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    We were facing this exact issue here in Spokane, where they allow the keeping of chickens but require the "housing of any animals" to be 90 feet from any road or property line. Of course, 90% of the lots in the City aren't big enough to allow for compliance with the law. In our case the City determined that the policy was unfair and ceased enforcing it. Not the best solution, mind you - they could decide to start enforcing it again - but enough to give us piece of mind before building our coop.

    In your situation, I would suggest playing up the concept of "pets" as much as humanly possible. Lots of people hear "chickens" and they think "farm," but the concept of keeping urban chickens as pets has become very commonplace and often results in a totally different look and feel. Continually call them pets, not livestock. Talk about them as treasured companions, not food (even if you DO plan to eat their eggs and, like in our case, one or two of the birds themselves). Make comparisons to dogs and cats and I strongly suggest showing pictures of how nice chicken coops really can look (there are oodles of good pics on BYC!). You will have to break the stereotype of run down looking, scrap built coops with dirty yards and the concept of "farm chickens." Try and replace it with "urban chickens," "pets," etc.

    As far as the "what if" scenario put upon you by the commission regarding potential future home buyers' issues with the chickens, I suggest looking into the turnover in your neighborhood. If people aren't selling their homes very often and turnover is low, you can argue that the potential for such a situation is not as likely. Also, you might try mentioning that it's unrealistic to compare your situation against a hypothetical situation that may or may not occur within the lifetime of your chickens. You live there now. Your neighbors live there now. To compare every variance in the City against who may or may not want to live there in the future is not exactly fair. Though, be cautious using this approach - you can just as easily tick off the commission with such usage. Consider who they are and what you know about them before applying the "fairness" argument.

    Lastly, do a quick web search for articles on urban chickens. There is quite a bit of support being built nation-wide for the keeping of chickens at home. Attitudes are changing and people are often less concerned with urban chickens than they are with people keeping large dogs, etc. Besides, a chicken never mauled a postal carrier. At least, not to my knowledge. [​IMG]
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Sounds like Sonoran Silkies is saying that property values INCREASE in areas of that city where people can have chickens.
     
  8. ChicksOnTheDL

    ChicksOnTheDL New Egg

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    We have a similar issue here in the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island. The Town ordinance allows hens but only if they are kept 50 feet from any property line, and that puts me out. To add insult to injury, my Village only allows 2 pets per household, and they must be of the feline or canine variety. So first I have to fight the Town to change the setback, then I have to take on the Village to change the entire animal ordinance. I went out yesterday with a petition. No signatures, but when I told a woman that they are clean, quiet, and healthy, her response was, "Oh, sure, just like that woman who had the chimp and then it mauled someone's face off." Yes ma'am, exactly like the 200 lb chimp with inch long teeth and a disturbing relationship with it's owner. Just like that. And I'm supposed to be the weirdo!?! [​IMG]

    2 Days Later...

    So yesterday my neighbor said that someone came to his door asking about us and saying they wanted to keep out people who are into voodoo. He told them that he was pretty sure that we aren't into animal sacrifice.

    I need to move. Long live voodoo chimpanzees.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  9. VivianL

    VivianL Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Wow.... those are some strict laws. So even a pet bird indoors would be a no-no? Amazing! I'm a bird fan and have budgies, tiels, a quaker, and a ringneck and a congo african grey. It is truly funny that I can have all of those but can't house chickens because the property lot is too narrow.
     
  10. HennysMom

    HennysMom Keeper of the Tiara

    Ah... okay - I understand where you're coming from but I'm still confused. In your first post I thought you stated you were in compliance with everything - except the structure situation... ??

    1. Nothing prohibits the keeping of said chickens.
    2. No current limitations on number of chickens.
    3. But... zoning says that any structure that houses the chickens can not be within 100 feet of a property line. We have 1/2 an acre and are within village lines.


    So how about a chicken tractor or just let them free range then? No permenant structure needed in that instance as they are not being "housed" in it - not permenantly, right?

    I too would go by the way of "pet" - however.. if you can clearly HAVE chickens per the law - my one question would be this: Law states I can have them, so you tell me how I'm to house them if I can clearly legally have them then on my lot size (also legally mind you given there are no clauses there). You state you're on 1/2 an acre and cannot have a structure within 100 feet of a property line? From my last calculation a 1/2 acre lot is the equivalent of 21,780 square feet - so nowhere on your lot do you have a place to sit the structure? It doesnt say from an EXISITING STRUCTURE, it just says from the property line right? So techincally you could put it right out your back door if you wanted to so long as its 100 feet from your neighbors property lines, or smack dab in the middle of your property if thats where your house is situated on your lot.

    There are so many variables, I realize, but if that is the only variance you're facing and you are in compliance with every other law - then I'd be measuring off 100 feet from every angle on my property looking for the best placement of the coop and to hell with the Commission and the neighbors - so long as what you stated above is the only laws on file, to which you're in compliance.
     

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