Monday, April 25, 2011

Prince William Allows Backyard Chickens with Limitations

On April 19th 2011 the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, voted to approve the latest staff proposal for a zoning change to allow backyard chickens in Prince William County. The approved amendment incorporated some of the less stringent requirements of the Planning Commission recommendations with the earlier staff recommendations. The amendment changes the zoning and land use regulations within the county. The full text, comments and history of the amendment can be read at this link.
The new zoning regulations allow the keeping of chickens, pigeons, doves and other domestic fowl on any A-1 (agricultural) zoned property of at least one acre located within a Domestic Fowl Overlay District to be created by the Board of Supervisors. In addition, on properties zoned SR-1, SR-3 and SR-5 (semirural) with a minimum of one acre by Special Use Permit within the Domestic Fowl Overlay District. The keeping of domestic fowl is not permitted outside of the Domestic Fowl Overlay District, except on A-1 zoned lots of ten acres or larger. A Domestic Fowl Overlay District was created by ordinance upon resolution of the Board of County Supervisors and aligns roughly with the Rural Crescent.
 The maximum number of fowl allowed is proportional to the lot size. One bird unit per acre is allowed for properties of 1 to less than 5 acres, three bird units per acre for properties of 5 to less than 10 acres. There is no limit on the number of bird units allowed on properties greater than 10 acres. A bird unit is:
10 chickens (though only one rooster per acre) or
6 ducks or
4 turkeys, geese or pea fowl or
1 ostrich or emu
20 pigeons, doves, or quail

The new fowl regulations require coops or cages and runs on any lot with less than five acres and specifies construction standards and humane areas for each bird, distance from Resource Protected Areas (RPA) under the Chesapeake Bay Act, distance from well heads. In addition, waste management for surface and groundwater protection must be established using the new Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District guidelines. These guidelines should prevent (or at least significantly reduce) contamination of the groundwater, a major drinking water supply for the area, and prevent the backyard chickens from adding contaminated runoff to the Chesapeake Bay.

As our area has become more suburban, density has increased, along with the utilization of groundwater for domestic purposes and the density of septic systems. This suburban development has increased the suburban runoff and nutrient contamination to our groundwater and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Virginia is under a federal mandate to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment contamination to the Chesapeake Bay. The federal pollution diet requires that Virginia reduce our non-point source pollution of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. The only responsible way the County Supervisors could allow property owners the right to have backyard chickens was to control the waste in a way that would not add to the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution. It was appropriate and necessary for them to leverage the resource of the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District to develop guidelines for low impact backyard chickens.
The proposed zoning change to allow backyard chickens contain limited regulations of the micro poultry “farms” to manage the waste and location of coops according to the protective separation requirements of the septic regulations. This hopefully will ensure that best management practices will be adopted by the backyard micro farmers without being unduly burdensom

15 comments:

  1. are chickens still allow to this day?

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  2. Is there a photo somewhere showing where it's allowed? I live over off rt 1 in woodbridge and I want to have chickens.

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    1. Yes, the Domestic Fowl Overlay District
      http://eservice.pwcgov.org/planning/documents/MAP_10Z2_ZOD_DomesticFowl5280.pdf

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  3. I lived in .25 acre home in dale city can I keep back yard chicken

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    1. No. The zoning regulations allow the keeping of chickens, pigeons, doves and other domestic fowl on any A-1 (agricultural) zoned property of at least one acre. In addition, on properties zoned SR-1, SR-3 and SR-5 (semirural) with a minimum of one acre by Special Use Permit and on parcels of 10 acres or larger.

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  4. I live in Woodbridge, in Lake Ridge, on one acre of land. Am I allowed to keep chickens there? I'm only planning on getting two or three.

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    1. Hi Hajar, If you send me your house address to my email, I can look up your zoning and tell you.

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  5. whats your email have so many questions

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  6. hello Ms. Elizabeth...Is there anything we can do to get the rules changed if we live in an area not allowed to have chickens...I keep them mostly as pets...and have been raising them my entire life...and now zoning wants me to remove them...thank you

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  7. Start with talking to your supervisor.

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  8. Please help me find out if my neighbor on Paxton street in Lakeridge is allowed to keep two chickens in his backyard. Who do I call if this is not allowed?

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  9. Paxton is residential planned community and not part of the Domestic Fowl Overlay District. You could try calling your neighbor first and talking to them about their chickens. After that call zoning.

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  10. It is such a disappointment that the Bacon Race Road area is not part of the Domestic Fowl Overlay District. Most residents here have at least an acre, if not more.

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