municipal code vs. Zoning code?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by Sore Thumb Suburbanite, May 20, 2011.

  1. Sore Thumb Suburbanite

    Sore Thumb Suburbanite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, I just found out, much to my delight that my municipal code for my city indicates that I can have up to 5 poultry (under 5 lbs---but who is going to secretly wiegh my birds) on my lot if they are kept in a coop which is regularly cleaned (no smells) and 20 feet away from my neighbors. So now I'm confused... my zoning map of my neighborhood shows that we are not to have livestock-type animals in this area. Which is the higher authority, the municipal code or my zoning code? One of my friendly neighbors seems to think poultry isn't allowed because we aren't zoned, but the municipal code says 5 small poultry within a distanced coop is allowed...

    My city just had a backyard chickens flyer about how great a little flock is and the only thing they sited as relevant was the municipal code.... ughhhhhhhh!

    I don't know if I'm legal or illegal anymore! And on top of that someone said there was some statute of limitation wherein if I have poultry for 4 years and nobody complains, but after which time if they do complain, they have no case bacause they knew about it for 4 years... I'm so lost.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Find out who your animal enforcement officer is and talk to them. I'd just call the regular phone number for your police or sheriffs office, whichever one applies, and talk to them about putting you in contact with the animal enforcement officer.

    Some areas might consider not-for-profit chickens pets instead of livestock. You are getting into legal definitions and those can be different in different jurisdictions. I suggest you talk to someone who knows your local area.
     
  3. gbeauvin

    gbeauvin Out Of The Brooder

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    The State of Alabama defines livestock in a manner such that chickens are NOT livestock. YMMV, however, and sometimes municipalities redefine such things [​IMG].

    -GB
     
  4. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A lot of times, a town or city will allow certain things, but will zone certain areas with restrictions. It sounds like your city's code is very vague. Is there a definitions section in the codebook/website that you can check? Usually, when lawmakers write laws, they have a definitions section somewhere.

    Personally, if your zoning laws says no livestock, but doesn't define livestock specifically as poultry, you should be OK. And, if there's no definition of what's considered livestock in either the zoning code or municipal code, you can put up a good fight if anything should go wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  5. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    It sounds as if the municode (City Code?) was updated to allow chickens after zoning code was written. Ideally, zoning code should reflect the change, but often is not. You need to check the definition sections of both sets of codes. Chances are pretty good that the number of smaller chickens listed means that they are defined as pets, not as livestock. A number of states do not consider chickens as livestock. Chickens are considered smallstock or poultry, instead.
     
  6. Sore Thumb Suburbanite

    Sore Thumb Suburbanite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks! I am going to see if my municipal code has a definitions section...

    Ok, I found ITTTTTTT!!! here it is, plain as day

    I AM LEGALLLL! I just don't know if I have to keep the coop 5 or 20 feet from a property line... but who cares really! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    2.
    The keeping of birds (as defined in Section 17.04.030) as pets or hobby shall conform to the following standards:
    a.
    The occasional sale of birds is permitted when such sale is incidental to the keeping of birds as pets or hobby.
    b.
    All birds permitted under this section shall be confined indoors or in a coop or aviary.
    c.
    Coops or aviaries shall at all times be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition and shall at all times be free of offensive odors.
    d.
    The location of coops or aviaries shall maintain a minimum setback of five feet from all property lines.
    e.
    The City's Code Enforcement Supervisor or designee shall be responsible for determining if the keeping of birds permitted under this section constitutes a nuisance, health or safety hazard, or is being conducted in violation of subsections a, b, c or d above.

    3.
    The keeping of animals on lots having less than twenty thousand (20,000) square feet of lot area per dwelling unit, shall conform to the following:
    a.
    The total number of mature dogs and cats shall be limited to three dogs and three cats.
    b.
    Poultry, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, and other small animals (less than five pounds), shall be limited to a total number of five, and all such animals shall be maintained in coops, pens, or other quarters or restraints located a minimum of twenty (20) feet from any property line.
    c.
    A maximum of five animals in any combination, as listed in subsections (C)(3)(a) and (b) of this section, shall be permitted on a property.
     
  7. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only problem is that I see in your signature like that you have 5 ducks and 3 geese already. [​IMG] See line 3c.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  8. Mamma_Duck04

    Mamma_Duck04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That & it says if your lot is less than 20,000sqft, the coop has to be 20ft off the property lines (5ft if you have more than 20,000sqft lot). So technically speaking, if your lot is only 6,000, you can have up to 5 animals (dogs, cats, & poultry TOGETHER) on your lot, with your coop 20ft off property lines.
     
  9. Sore Thumb Suburbanite

    Sore Thumb Suburbanite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have any other animals beside the birds that live on the property per say, the cats are outside-they roam the neighborhood (therefore classified as free roaming spirits). The geese I am contemplating getting rid of completely-I already will be rehoming the 2 male geese, they seem to make a lot of noise, even for being one of the quieter breeds (pilgrims). In the code it also states that up to 12 immature animals (8 months or younger) are allowed so long as your permanent number of pets remains 5 or less. Like if somebody's dog had puppies or what not. I'm not worried about the number per say since it will change soon. The lot size thing--I am 20 feet from all neighbor's yards when in their coop enclosure... except one yard and his is 15 feet away-though he said he really doesn't care and likes ducks a lot. I think I'm good to go. As long as Poultry is technically allowed, I don't think I'll have any nit picky neighbors (they all seem very mellow). 2 of my neighbors have 4 dogs, and I know they also have a ton of cats between them... I don't think anybody really pays attention to the legal amount of pets here unless it becomes a odor nusiance.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2011

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