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It may soon be possible for people living in residential areas in Bedford County to keep chickens.
The Bedford County Planning Commission is considering a text amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance that will allow chickens without any special permits.
One decision was minimum lot size.
“Do we want to consider a minimum acreage?” asked District 3 planning commission member Steve Wilkerson. “The issue to me is to keep the chickens off the other guy’s property and not generate traffic by selling eggs.”
The planning commission settled on a quarter acre as the minimum lot size.
Another decision was whether roosters would be allowed.
“I live next to a guy who has 17 chickens,” commented District 7 planning commission member Jerry Craig. Craig said that he can’t hear them and the reason is that they are all hens.
“A rooster will crow more than at daybreak,” said Craig. “It depends on how he feels.”
But, “If you want to have more chickens, you are going have to have a rooster,” he said.
“I think it’s a lot simpler to say ‘no roosters,’” commented Wilkerson.
“Obviously you have never raised chickens,” Craig replied.
“No, but I’ve raised a lot of eggs,” Wilkerson responded.
District 4 planning commission member Frederic Fralick noted that, although he understands a little about biology, he would prefer to ban roosters from residential districts.
They ultimately decided to ban roosters. They also agreed that the chickens must be penned.
There was also a question of how many chickens should be allowed.
“They don’t all lay one egg per day per chicken,” Craig commented. He says his neighbor with the 17 hens gets between one and three dozen eggs a week.
Fralick suggested 10 chickens, but Craig disagreed.
“Ten chickens will not produce enough eggs to be worth fooling with,” said Craig.
However, they decided a limit is needed.
“Somewhere you are going to find someone who wants to have 500 chickens on a quarter acre lot,” commented Craig.
They settled on a limit of 18 chickens, a number that they decided would produce enough eggs for a family.
“Maybe we’ll sell ‘em to Campbell County for water. Trade them for water,” joked Commission Chairman Derrick Noel.
What if somebody has more than 18?
“Who is going to come around and count the chickens?” asked Wilkerson.
“Staff will, Brad [Robinson] will,” joked Noell.
Robinson is the planner staffed with writing the chicken text amendment, which he will bring back to the planning commission for its recommendation. Ultimate approval rests with the board of supervisors.
Even if the supervisors approve the backyard chicken text amendment, not everybody will be able to have them. Fralick noted that some neighborhoods have restrictive covenants that ban fowl.
“You don’t want to run afoul of the homeowners’ association,” he commented.