Proposal allows city residents to keep specific ‘farm’ animals

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

Roosters might consider a proposed amendment to Washington’s regulations regarding “farm” animals in the city as a form of discrimination.

Under proposed changes to the city’s animal regulations, a city resident could keep up to 10 “domestic female chickens on one lot, but roosters would not be allowed. The chickens could not run at large, but would have to be kept in a “suitable” chicken house or coop, which would have to be cleaned at least twice a week. Waste material from the coop must be hauled away or disposed of on-site in a manner that does not cause a bad odor and attract flies, according to the proposed amendment.

The Washington Planning Board recommends the City Council, which meets Monday, adopt the proposed changes.

Anyone keeping domestic fowl (chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and the like) in the city would be required to obtain a permit from the city, with that permit renewed annually. Permits may be revoked if conditions of the permit and/or the zoning rules are violated.

The recommended changes would allow city residents to keep horses and other animals under specific conditions that include providing adequate housing, pens and enclosures. Horses would have to be kept at least 200 feet from the nearest residence of business. The number of horses shall not exceed one per acre with a maximum of two, according to the proposed rules.

The proposed changes also define “farm” animals and spell out other conditions and restrictions related to keeping such animals in the city. The proposed changes are the result of incidents that occurred earlier this year.

In January, the Board of Adjustment revoked a notice of violation issued to John D. Moore III that said he violated a city ordinance that prohibits the keeping of farm animals in the city. Moore was sent a notice of violation (dated Nov. 14, 2016) that informed him that the keeping and boarding of horses at 2310 N. Market St. “is unlawful and a prohibited use of your property.” The notice told Moore he could remedy the violation by relocating the horses to a property outside the city limits. John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, signed the notice.

The city code reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep at any time any type of farm animal or fowl within the city.”

Moore, Rodman and the board members agreed the city code and city ordinances are somewhat ambiguous when it comes to defining farm animals. Fuchs noted that although the city’s regulations prohibit farm animals in the city, those same regulations address the construction of barns and stables.

Board members said the city code and city ordinances need updating as soon as possible.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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