Why did the chicken crash the BOS meeting?

It has only been recently that raising chickens, primarily for their eggs, has become an issue in a number of communities. In Chesterfield, it’s not legal to raise fowl on a residentially zoned property. But that could change.

Ryann Barnum, wants the chicken ordinance to change as soon as possible, although she applied for a conditional use permit to allow her to raise chickens on her two-acre parcel.

One neighbor contends, although that neighbor is a quarter-of-a-mile away, that rooster crowing and the smell will be a nuisance.

According to Andrea Epps who is representing Ms. Barnum, “These chickens have become pets to Ryann’s little girls and it’s also a matter of a balance of property rights,” Epps said. Somehow chickens were thrown into the same pot as stock farms and she says that a chicken is not stock as in cattle or horses.

“Students are given eggs as a science project and they put them in incubators; they watch them hatch and then the teacher says, ‘who wants a chicken?’” Epps said. “So what are they going to do with them.”

In 2002 Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors amended the residential zoning, which disallowed raising chickens, rabbits or any other “stock” animals. Epps says that other jurisdictions are considering the same issue as more people are becoming health conscious.

An online petition has gathered 545 electronic signatures in support of the Barnums since the Board of Supervisors deferred their case in May. The Board also asked the planning staff for a detailed report on the issue. The staff came back, last week, to the Board with a 49-page report.

Board Chair Dorothy Jaeckle said the Board should take some time to review the report.

“This seems like something everyone is thinking about nowadays as they try to live a healthier lifestyle.” Ms. Jaeckle deferred the case for six months (January, 2014) pending review of the staff’s report.

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