Planning Board to discuss regulations for fowl in city

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Washington’s Planning Board, during its meeting Tuesday, is scheduled to consider changing its recommendation that chicken coops in the city be at least 100 feet from any residence to 50 feet.

The City Council, at a meeting in November 2017, said it wanted time to analyze a proposed amendment to the city code that would allow city residents to keep certain “farm” animals inside the city limits. The council decided it wants to closely examine the proposal and find out how other cities address residents having farm animals. The council also made it clear it wants to first focus on the part of the proposal dealing with chickens (and other fowl such as ducks and geese) before turning its attention to farm animals such as horses.

The council had planned to revisit the issue at its Jan. 8 meeting, but that did not occur.

Emma Wood, a proponent of chickens in the city, asked that the proposed minimum distance between chicken coops and residences be 50 feet, according to a memorandum from John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, to the mayor and council members. Rodman informed Wood the Planning Board would have to recommend to the council that a smaller distance between chicken coops and residences be allowed.

“Therefore, the subject of urban chickens and a text amendment will not come before Council until the February 12, 2018 (council) meeting,” Rodman wrote in the memorandum.

Under the original recommended 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.

Under the original proposed recommendations, 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.




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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