City residents may be able to keep chickens under certain conditions

Published 10:31 am Monday, February 12, 2018

Want a say in whether Washington should amend its ordinances to allow chickens in the city limits? That opportunity is available Monday night when Washington’s City Council is scheduled to consider doing jut that.

A public hearing on the matter is set for 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The Planning Board, which discussed the issue at its January meeting, recommends an amendment to the city ordinances that would allow chickens under certain conditions.

“The amendment proposal is in response to several requests to allow chickens to be kept within the City of Washington corporate limits. Staff reviewed animal regulations from other municipalities in regards to their corporate limits. Staff was able to use this data to provide an amendment that was suitable to the City of Washington,” wrote John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, in a memorandum to the mayor and council members.

The Planning Board’s recommendation is to reduce the distance between chicken coops and residences from 100 feet to 50 feet and limit the number of (female) chickens to 10. No roosters would 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 proposed modifications being recommended to the council by the board, 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 board’s action came after Emma Wood, a proponent of chickens in the city, requested that the proposed minimum distance between chicken coops and residences be 50 feet, according to another memorandum Rodman to the mayor and council members. Rodman informed Wood the board would have to recommend to the council that a smaller distance between chicken coops and residences be allowed.







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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