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Chicken Resolution Flies the Coop

by Katie Pyzyk | May 2, 2012 at 10:08 am | 2,884 views | 227 Comments

Last night, the Arlington County Civic Federation debated a proposed resolution regarding raising backyard chickens, but it didn’t get very far.

Jim Pebley, a member from the Waycroft-Woodlawn Civic Association, had proposed the resolution, which opposes changing the county ordinance in order to allow residents to raise chickens.

Currently, livestock or poultry must be kept at least 100 feet away from a property owner’s street and lot lines, which is a difficult feat considering the size of lots in Arlington. A group called the Arlington Egg Project has proposed eliminating that restriction so that residents can raise egg-laying hens in their backyards. The county’s recently-formed Urban Agriculture Task Force is tackling the issue and is expected to make recommendations to the County Board by early next year.

Pebley gave a presentation explaining why it would be detrimental to the community to allow backyard chickens. In addition to irking neighbors with noise, Pebley contends chickens in backyards would attract rodents, pose a health risk and pollute groundwater that drains to the Chesapeake. He said the chickens and their waste also produce odors, which would bother neighbors.

“The smell is unavoidable,” said Pebley. “This just really borders on nonsense.”

He also said it would be difficult for the county to enforce regulations for raising chickens, due to the animals being hidden in backyards. That, he believes, would push neighbors to report each other to authorities.

“You aren’t going to have any more staff to enforce this. Neighbors are going to have to be the ones who enforce it,” Pebley said. “We’re going to have to turn the neighbors into police.”

Ed Fendley, co-founder of the Arlington Egg Project, gave a presentation in favor of backyard chickens. He said the group is interested in allowing a limited number of hens, but not roosters. He explained that with a limited number of hens, waste problems and noise would be minimal.

Fendley doesn’t believe the proper avenues have been followed to get information about urban agriculture out to the public. He asked the Civic Federation members to keep an open mind and to let the facts get out as part of the proper process.

“The Arlington Egg Project wants to foster a community conversation about backyard hens,” said Fendley. ”All we’re asking you to do tonight is reserve judgment, we’re not asking you to join us.”

Fendley said the group is gaining support and more than 1,000 people have signed a petition requesting that Arlington allow backyard hens.

In addition to disagreeing with the way the backyard hen issue is being addressed, Fendley contends the Civic Federation’s resolution is unbalanced and biased as currently written.

“Let’s believe in Arlington, and let’s let the process work,” Fendley said. “If you believe in that process and if you believe in facts, then I ask that you join me in voting against this premature resolution.”

As it turns out, there wouldn’t be a vote on approving the resolution due to member concerns.

At issue is the final paragraph, which reads:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE Arlington County Civic Federation is opposed to relaxing the current restrictions in the Arlington County ordinances that relate to agriculture activities in Arlington, including the raising, housing, or sale of livestock or poultry, without a more expansive and inclusive public process.

Several members questioned the wording and expressed confusion over the intent of the resolution and exactly what issue it’s addressing. It was suggested that clarification should be made over whether the resolution is intended to oppose backyard chickens, or to offer a more inclusive public process. When members started proposing changing the resolution or tabling it until the next meeting, even more confusion arose.

Significant time was devoted to parliamentary procedure and ensuring all speakers properly introduced motions. When a motion to table the issue was brought up, additional time was spent scrutinizing the procedure for such a motion. As the meeting grew longer and more members left, a motion to adjourn was proposed, ruffling even more feathers.

In the end, members voted in favor of tabling the issue until next month’s meeting, in order to gather more information about the issue and how to re-word the resolution.

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  • nom de guerre

    Speaking of fowl, today’s Sam’s Corner daily special is featuring Grilled free range chicken with Asiago Pressato and arugula on black olive and rosemary focaccia with sundried tomato and macadamia nut pesto. While supplies last.

  • E2DAV

    I am assuming Jim Pebley has never been around chickens..they smell no more than dog waste. It’s not like anyone is proposing a factory chicken farm.

    And pollution? If he is such an environmentalist, then he should be able to get behind something that would reduce car exhaust because there will be less trip via car to buy eggs and he would be behind the reduction in transport, packaging and pasteurizing. The environmental argument would go both ways.

    I don’t understand why people have issues with experimentation. My guess is that a handful of people would actually follow through because it does take a lot of work. So, a handful of houses in the ARL would have maybe four or five chickens…is that worth all this noise? Give it a year, if it doesn’t work, then go back to the ban.

    It’s a lot of energy to put forth on something that will probably have a negligible impact.

    And, only a true suburbanite would think Arlington will get louder because a handful of chickens are around.

    • Elmer

      Incorrect on ypur assumption about Jim Pebley.
      From a handout at the Civ Fed meeting last night:
      Jim Pebley…”Raised on a 16 acre ranch with a real hen house and egg producing chickens.”.

      • thegreatGU

        Chickens do not smell like dogs, you can smell a chicken coup for blocks.

        Have you ever made a trip to the store for just eggs?

        Experimentation is to be done under controlled environments. My neighborhood is not a controlled environment. Considering the risk factor of getting hundreds sick from one person wanting to raise a chicken, it is not even close to a tough decision. If you want some chickens go live in the country. Arlington has one of the highest population densities in the country; no need to add chickens into the mix.

        • that guy

          +1
          Right on

        • Zoning Victim

          “Considering the risk factor of getting hundreds sick from one person wanting to raise a chicken [...]”

          Congratulations, this debate has been running for months and you’ve just topped the list of the dumbest quotes for reasons not to allow a limited number of chickens in Arlington.

          There are already people raising chickens in Arlington, albeit illegally. Chicken coops with a few chickens in them do not smell for blocks. I’ll put that one at #4, right behind #2 “what if people want to raise tigers/bears/whales/[any-stupid-animal-you-can-think-of-that-someone-shouldn't-raise], we’ll have to let them do that, too, if we let a few people own chickens” and #3 the argument that a few more birds in Arlington are going to wreck environmental havoc .

          I was around farms where people raised most kinds of livestock (cows, pigs, goats, chickens and sheep) for their own food for most of my childhood, including living on one for years. None of them have ever smelled for blocks or even five yards. Giant farms can be smelled from a long way away; a few chickens don’t smell at all unless you lock yourself in the chicken coop. Since you’re deathly afraid of sickening the masses, I assume you wouldn’t do that to yourself.

          If you can stop making up facts for a few minutes, go on Wikipedia and do a search for “population density in the United States” where you’ll find a set of lists of the top 161 incorporated locations and census designated places for population density, and Arlington, VA will be nowhere to be found on that list.

          If you have to make up a bunch of inane garbage and call it fact to make a point, you never had one in the first place.

          • Mary-Austin

            Agreed.

            And the “environmental impact” argument is also incredibly stupid.
            We have a dog park on Four Mile Run that is essentially in a stream that dog crap is going directly in to. Not to mention the number of dog owners who don’t bother to pick up after their pets everywhere else. Yea some chickens are gonna cause nitrogen levels to explode!

            What’s next?…Backyard hens are a violation of animal rights?

          • drax

            http://www.novaregion.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=292

            A quarter of the bacteria in Four Mile Run is from dog poop.

            Ban dogs!

          • Elmer

            This illustrates why the chicken proposal is not a good idea. If we can’t trust dog owners to be responsible enough to pick up and properly dispose of their dog poop, why compound the public “pooper problem” by trusting chicken owners to properly remove and dispose of their chicken poop?

          • drax

            So…ban dogs?

          • dk

            Well, one difference is that the chickens will presumably remain in their own yards, rather than meeting to play at chicken parks and concentrating their poop near four mile run, where runoff into a stream is a concern.

          • Lloyd

            I am field-goaling the first chicken I see being led around on a leash.

        • Chick

          Highest population densities in the country?

          Wow, you don’t get out much.

          Hundreds sick from chickens? Yeah, that can easily happen – from the chicken you buy at Safeway. About five percent of chicken products test positive for salmonella. About 400 people die each year of salmonella in the U.S. And that’s just one kind of disease you can get.

          • Neutrino

            “Wow, you don’t get out much.”
            There’s no need to be negative.

            “Yeah, that can easily happen – from the chicken you buy at Safeway.”
            That’s not exactly a meaningful comparison.

          • Chick

            Well, yes, it’s a very meaningful comparison. Salmonella is the same on a live chicken as a dead one. Both can make you sick. It’s a perfect comparison.

        • Luther

          Sorry GU you are not correct.

      • BlueSkies

        That doesn’t say how many chickens he had. A 16-acre ranch and a “real” (not imaginary!) hen house sound like many more chickens than the handful per owner being proposed here.

        • BlueSkies

          This was supposed to post in response to Elmer’s first comment way above:

          “Incorrect on ypur assumption about Jim Pebley.
          From a handout at the Civ Fed meeting last night:
          Jim Pebley…”Raised on a 16 acre ranch with a real hen house and egg producing chickens.”.”

    • Really?

      Less car trips? Don’t people still need to buy the rest of their groceries?
      This is a silly idea by people who haven’t been raised near chickens. The environmental impact for the watershed is real.

      • Sandy

        It would save gas because when the Peapod truck makes its delivery to my house it will be 12oz lighter because I would not be ordering eggs.

        psst………I actually think this is a stupid idea.

      • Archerrules

        Nope. You are wrong Really?.

    • 1RLI

      “…there will be less trip via car to buy eggs…” PUH-lease. By your argument, we should have dairy cows in the yard to save trips to market to buy milk and butter. Then beef cows to save trips for ground beef and steak. Then we’ll plant wheat so that trips for bread can be eliminated. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

      • E2DAV

        Listen, I am not saying that it really would cut down on car trips, but if you claim that it is going to destroy the watershed, then I will put up an equal counter to that. The truth is that the volume will not be so heavy to affect either the watershed or the amount of car trips.

        And, as for the smell argument, I was raised next to a chicken farm and unless somebody wants to build a coop for over 30, it smells no more than a dog.

        The question is – what makes chickens unique? I am not advocating to rid ARL of dogs, but dogs are louder, produce waste, provide nothing tangible…all the things that the chickens would supposedly bring to the table.

        As far as Arlington being a dense, urban environment – it is and plenty of other dense, urban environments have chickens. It Portland is doing it, we must try to, right? I mean with the streetcar and all.

        I am not a real proponent here, but I don’t see why everyone has to get in the way when the impact will be negligible.

        • dk

          “bring to the table.” snicker

          ITA with this. A few chickens make little smell, little noise, and little mess. AND unlike dog poop, chicken poop can be used as fertilizer.

          I have no chicken in this fight, since I have a dog that I suspect wouldn’t live peacefully with chickens, but I can’t see how birds would be any more problematic than other acceptable animals.

          Wouldn’t mind if my neighbor had a pretty little cow, either. :-)

  • F. Leghorn

    Ah say, ah say – this is just preposterous!

  • KalashniKEV

    Why do they even let people waste their time with these crazy issues?

    Urban Agriculture??? Is that supposed to be a joke?

    • Elmer

      “Urban Agriculture”, “Urban Village”, “Inclusive, Diverse”, and a host of other “mutually contradictory” terms. It just reflects the public schizophrenia which has become the Arlington Way. Crazy? Possibly.

      • South Awwlington

        The most activist driven locally elected politicians I have ever seen. They are surely serving at the wrong level of government.
        What ever happened to locally elected pols being reactionary or at least inline with current trends?

        • Josh S

          Not sure which way to go first here —-

          “Reactionary or at least inline with current trends?” Isn’t the whole point of being reactionary that you are actively *not* inline with current trends?

          Local pols are reactionary when the local electorate is reactionary. Arlington is not. (Thank all that is good in the world….)

          • South Awwlington

            Our pols represent a small faction of Arlington Democrats which is why they ALL serve at Large instead of in wards or districts and why we can’t elect a County Executive or vote for the Board Chair.

          • ACDC Forever

            Because this might threaten the long time one party dominance here in Arlington.
            I suggest you ask Alan Howze or Jay Fisette to deliver you a lecture about the dangers of having two viable parties in Arlington…..

            Competitive elections will result in dandruff and bad breath for all Arlington County residents !!!

        • SouthPikeGuy

          Arlington has become a great incubator (lolpun) for people who want to learn how to govern. It’s kind of like SimCity when you cheat and give yourself unlimited money.

      • cranky crankypants

        you forgot “sustainable.”

    • WeiQiang

      No more than Liberty Gardens were a joke. No more than the idea of wanting to know the degree to which “fresh produce” coming from Chile, Ecuador or Peru has been processed/treated is a joke.

      If a small group of folks wants to experiment with urban agriculture, maybe the rest of us can learn something about its viability … or about the value of locally-raised produce on health or commerce. Maybe we use the current community garden areas for small-scale agriculture products, instead of putting the coops in back yards. Or, put the coops on school property and tie in some lesson plans to it. Aren’t we detached enough from practical applications of education?

      I agree that wasting parliamentary time on this issue is not productive. Set up a small-scale project and see what happens. In business, we call it an – wait for it – an incubator.

      • drax

        Nah. Stay in the bubble. Nothing must change! Perfect little safe suburban lawns!

        • WeiQiang

          People like you just want to ruin our suburban lawns! Listen, I lived near a suburban lawn when I was growing up and it smelled like grass after it was cut [yech!] and it probably contributed to the increase in nitrogen content of the soil [pollution!]. One cool thing is that I had some runoff from the fertilizer I used, so I blamed it on the neighbors who were raising pot-belly chickens.

          • drax

            Good point – lawns pollute the streams with excess fertilizer worse than anything else in Arlington.

          • Neutrino

            What I was thinking exactly. Say 500 people raise ten chickens each. Now, say tens of thousands of homes fertilize their lawns. Which do you think produces a greater runoff into the watershed?

      • Luther

        Good!

    • drax

      Still want to close all the libraries?

      • KalashniKEV

        How else are we going to lower taxes by 66%?

        • drax

          You tell us.

          We know you want to shut down all libraries, and Artisphere. That’s like 1%. Get to work on the rest.

          • KalashniKEV

            No more “Travel & Tourism Promotion” money either.

          • drax

            Okay, that’s like 1.5%.

            Why don’t you just tell us all at once instead of a little at a time? More efficient. Get to work and don’t come back until you have your complete budget done.

  • Todd

    Stupid. Waste.

    • drax

      Then by all means, don’t get chickens.

  • Julie

    This is not just about chickens. It’s also about backyard bees, rabbits, fish, and possibly goats and miniature pigs, And more county staff added to an already bloated bureaucracy that caters to special interest groups.

    • WeiQiang

      The rabbits in Arlington Ridge are not in cages. They roam the streets. I think it’s pretty cool and it doesn’t seem to harm any one.

      Fish? Like Koi? I’ll take a pot belly pig over my neighbor not cleaning up after her dog in her yard. THAT smells.

    • dk

      My neighborhood is absolutely overrun with rabbits, and none of them are in cages. Can I keep a wolf in my back yard?

      • WeiQiang

        Borrow one of the coyotes from N. Arlington.

    • drax

      Well, no, it’s only about chickens.

      Yes, let’s stop catering to special interest groups. Ban dogs!

  • David

    Honestly, how many people would take advantage of backyard chicken laws? How many live in condo dwellings or HOAs where they would not allow this? The reality is there would be very few backyard chicken farmers among us. I am all for this. My brother in San Diego has 5 hens and are getting a good supply of eggs. Is it economical, not with the start up costs. It has taught his kids added responsibility and a sense of pride. Doe they smell, not really. I don’t see a problem with this at all.

  • Kramer

    My Little Jerry!!

    • drax

      Kenny!

  • George

    If my neighbor had one of these, i would be pissed IF they made noise or smelled bad.

    In addition, what is to stop someone from having a huge hen house in their back yard with 15 or 20 hens? The article mentioned sales of eggs, that leads me to think they want to have a number of hens that could produce enough eggs for sale at the courthouse farmers market, etc.

    Sounds like a real problem in the future for neighbors if this is allowed.

    • Archerrules

      No one is asking for hen houses of 15-20 hens. Read the proposal.

      • George

        it might happen. I have no idea how many eggs a hen can lay, but, they did specifically mention being able to sell these eggs at some point in the future. If they want to sell these eggs they would probably want to have enough to make a few bucks a week, which means more hens right?

        we don’t know about noise or smells either. One guy says they dont smell, or make noise. How can that be? Either way i would be annoyed if my neighbors hens wake me up in the morning. Barking dogs can already be annoying for neighbors.(and i have a dog)

        • drax

          So we put a limit on the number of hens. Say 3. Done.

          See how easy that was?

    • Zoning Victim

      That’s like saying we shouldn’t have zoning laws that allow people to build dog houses because “what’s to stop someone from building an enormous dog house and putting like 50 dogs in there?”

      • drax

        Yep. Classic slippery slope argument.

      • George

        well, were not talking about harvesting eggs from the dogs! Does the county have a limit on dogs per house?

        • Neutrino

          Yes. Your pets will be removed from your home if they exceed reasonable limits.

    • Zoning quirk

      You could have an unlimited number of chickens living in the same hen house, as long as they are related by blood or marriage.

      • Standards….

        “as long as they are related by blood or marriage”

        So will you recognize all chicken marriages or will only those between a hen and a rooster be recognized ??

        • nom de guerre

          We will use the same standards as West Virginia-you will have to be related by blood and married.

          • Done and Done

            I’m confused about the standards, though – would that be *new* marriages or *old* marriages? I don’t believe that Virginia will recognize relocated marriages as valid unless stated a priori

  • DarkHeart

    “That, he believes, would push neighbors to report each other to authorities.”

    The County already encourages this activity.

    http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CommissionerOfRevenue/CommissionerOfRevenueVTTaxEvaders.aspx

  • Steamboat Willie

    I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about this issue, but friends of mine have been raising laying hens for several years in their Arlington backyard. They have not received a single complaint from neighbors.

    • FunReadArlNow

      I’m against this because I have a nearby-neighbor with fowl:
      1) chicken has escaped into the next-door neighbor’s yard
      2) has a rooster
      The proponents can’t guarantee that people will raise chickens responsibly and won’t break the rules about roosters.

      The next-door neighbor doesn’t want to call the county but wishes somebody would. I’m not going to — my criteria for calling is when I can hear the noise inside my house when the windows are closed. I can’t hear the rooster. Also, my 2-year-old laughs when he peers through the fence at the chick and rooster.

      • Eponymous Coward

        I don’t care much about this proposal either way, but requiring proponents to guarantee all future action of others is not even a remotely reasonable standard. If the inability to prevent all violations invalidates a rule, your own example invalidates the *current* rule against chickens. Also, I believe proponents are not asking for roosters.

        But this is a silly debate that could only happen in a relatively safe suburb, and for that, we should consider ourselves fortunate.

    • South Awwlington

      I don’t think many people would care EXCEPT you have no control over what your neighbors do. What recourse will neighbors have when one among them steps out of line?

      • HC Carey

        The same recourse we have now–exactly the same. Imagine the ordinance limits people to four hens, and specifies distance from property lines. You would have EXACTLY the same recourse you have now if your neighbor violates any number of zoning ordinances

        • South Awwlington

          File a compliant with the County Zoning board and wait three months for them to respond to an initiative they helped get started? Fat chance.

          • HC Carey

            Or call the cops! Why are you imagining it’s more complicated than it is?

          • John Fontain

            Just what we need our law enforcement spending their time on.

          • drax

            So fix the zoning department.

          • Standards….

            “So fix the zoning department.”

            Gads !!

            You mean that they haven’t been already and can still breed ??

            Oh the horror !!

          • Zoning Victim

            My neighbor filed a complaint with them and they were at my house the next day.

    • Chick

      Our neighbor has them now. Everyone likes them.

      • Zoning Victim

        My god, two different people on here already have neighbors with chickens?!? Hundreds will get sick! We could have an epidemic on our hands. All of the blue crabs are going to die!!!

  • Eggs-pert Lay-person

    It looks like a fair amount of uninformed rationales are being advanced on both sides. Of the 25 cities in the US that allow this, ALL exclude roosters, so there is NO noise, and most limit the number of hens to 3 or 4, so there is limited “supply” of waste, eliminating concerns about run-off or bad smells. Those concerned about code enforcement should know that the County already relies almost exclusively on a complaint-based system, and not just for code enforcement, but for pothole and sidewalk repair, etc. Those concerned about limiting car trips should try walking or biking to the grocery store, and more importantly, to work or to go our at night. Those concerned about disease from such a small number of birds are being hysterical. There are far greater risks in Arlington from the density of people, rats, wild birds, etc. and from the factory-farm, food-industrical complex’s abuse of antibiotics. A few chickens here or there kept for a few dozen kooky hippy-wannabes is not going to change these risks one way or the other.

    • Facts

      Yeah, except that the chickens will increase the rat population in Arlington. When there’s a food source, the rats will be attracted to it.

      We have tiny yards in Arlington, so the decision by one neighbor to have chickens will negatively impact the quality of life of surrounding neighbors who live in Arlington because it’s “urban,” not farmland. It seems ultimately selfish to me that the rest of the neighbors will have to live with this “experiment” by those who romanticize a very serious job of raising, managing, and ultimately disposing of chickens once they can no longer lay eggs.

      • Rat Fink

        ratphobe!

        • KalashniKEV

          The rats are all part of the plan… we’re trying to get things VIBRANT over here!

          • Josh S

            VIBRANT is the code word you use to communicate with your handlers?

          • drax

            Maybe that’s his stage name.

          • WeiQiang

            Kalashni K. Bottoms … 1st Runner Up at Freddie’s. Beautiful gown … so-so baton twirling.

          • nom de guerre

            with a stunning sequined bandolier.

          • KalashniKEV

            Actually, it’s M40 promask, wet weather top under Class A jacket, and shower shoes.

            … and a guidon with Bob McDonnell’s face on it.
            … and a PT belt. (of course)

          • drax
      • Eggs-pert Lay-person

        Grocery store and restaurant dumpsters and dog feces also attract rats, and those sources are likely to far outnumber the kooky chicken owners. Chicken waste does not attract rats, only poorly stored chicken feed. Rats can be controlled. A zoning permit for chikcens could require rat control.

        If we’re that concerns about rats, maybe we should ban grocery stores, restaurants, and dogs from Arlington. And people that leave food around.

        • HC Carey

          Cats–let’s not forget people’s cats, roaming the county, crapping and peeing where they please, destroying the Chesapeake and attracting rats.

          Wait, um..

      • Josh S

        “The chickens will increase the rate population in Arlington.”

        Made all the more hilarious by someone who calls themselves “Facts.”

        Like, where, exactly are the “facts” that allow you to make such categorical statements?

        I’d go with a risk-based approach. All of the objections to this plan are reasonable at some level. But what is the risk that any one of them will actually materialize? Especially if the code is written in a way to minimize those risks? (E.g., no roosters, limited number allowed on any one property, minimum distance between coop and neighboring buildings, etc.) I’d say absent some serious 60 Minutes-level investigative reporting evidence showing that all heck breaks loose when chickens are allowed in urban areas (which none of the naysayers has provided – it’s all been speculation), that it is reasonable to conclude that the risks will be relatively low and will be manageable.

      • drax

        So when are you going to ban vegetable gardens and bird feeders?

      • Zoning Victim

        Cuccinelli, get back to work and stop with the rat paranoia. I’m sure someone somewhere is begging to get sued by talking about global warming.

        • Marie Antoinette

          No, only sue if they are using state funds for a psuedo science.

          • Neutrino

            It sure is in a lawyer-politician’s job to determine the merits of scientific models.

          • Marie Antoinette

            Hokey, quasi-scientific model in which all original data sets are missing or incomplete. While Professor Mann was busy trying to “hide the decline”, others were intent to carry out their jobs as elected officials–to determine whether or not fraud was committed against the Commonwealth.

          • drax

            A scientist who uses bad data or bad logic is policed by other scientists. Cooch’s “concern” for science, like yours, is fake. It’s 100% political.

          • marie antoinette

            Yes, Drax, and policing they did. In fact, it was well known that you would be systematically blackballed from major scientific publications if you questioned AGW. Get real.

  • WeiQiang

    Of course the proponents can’t guarantee responsibility; no more than dog lovers can gurantee that their dogs won’t get loose, won’t bite someone, won’t get run over, or won’t copulate with someone else’s dog. We can only try our best, abide by the reasonable rules that we have, and face the consequences if we stray outside of those rules. As with any number of issues affecting a densely populated area like Arlington [smoking, parking, chickens, dogs, brown flip flops, retail signage], there are reasonable limits that we can apply to enable individuals to pursue the life they envision for themselves without unduly encroaching on others.

    • ResponsibleDemocrat

      there already are reasonable rules on this, that were set up when Arlington was much less dense. And set up by people who were much more in tune with do-it-yourself agriculture.

      The chicken lovers are wrong.

      • Voice of Reason

        +1

      • HC Carey

        Why?

        I mean, some actual arguments would be better than a simple declarative. What harm would an ordinance limiting people to, say, three hens do?

      • drax

        This is about a certain number of feet. Declaring the current number perfect is subjective.

        • Thes

          Indeed. The current zoning law allows, I believe, roosters and hens in large numbers as long as it’s 100 feet to a property line. The proponents have suggested allowing “a small number” of hens (only) within 10 feet of a property line.

          There are many possible compromises. For example, imagine if this were the rule:

          “The 100-foot rule still applies for free-for-all chickens. In addition chickens are allowed up to 40 feet from a property line, if they comply with all the other rules below:

          1. No roosters. Up to 3 hens are allowed if the owner of the hens pays for a license from the County (with a fee to pay administrative costs).
          2. To get a license, the property owner must allow an initial inspection, and one additional random inspection once per year, as well as additional inspections if there is cause to believe there is a problem. Inspection costs are incorporated into the license fees.
          3. The hens must be housed humanely, and in a manner that prevents them from getting out, and other animals from getting in.
          4. All chicken waste must be safely disposed of. Water runoff from the chicken coop must be contained so that it does not enter other properties.

          Would that address neighbor concerns? What else is left?

          • nom de guerre

            If you wish to sanction chicken fights on your property you must file for a live entertainment permit-additional fees and/or regulations are involved.

          • Done and Done

            Don’t you mean a *seasonal* permit? Wouldn’t want the chicken fighting proponents thinking they could do it year-round. Unless it’s on one of the proposed trolley stops – then the year-round permit would naturally be okay.

      • WeiQiang

        And precisely which density threshold put us in extremis, vis-a-vis chickens?

        In tune with do-it-yourself agriculture? What does that mean?

      • Sector 7G

        It would be informative to read about the history of the 100 foot regulation, where it came from, etc. Anyone know how long it’s been on the books?

  • DarkHeart

    Guinea Fowl are the answer. They make noises that rats don’t like (burglars too!)

    • Who needs ADT

      When I was a kid, we had a piece of land that we kept animals on. We would go a couple of times a month (but we had someone who took care of the animals when we weren’t there), anyhow between visits one day, my uncle showed up with three strange looking chickens. My parents built a makeshift cage for them until we could take them to the farm and all seemed well…until the next morning…we heard a racket that was louder than all get out! They were whooping and cackling and I’m sure aside from waking folks up, they probably scared the he’ll out of them, too!!! It turns out that they were Guinea hens, and I will never forget the few days we had the at our house! They startle easily, and once one gets going, the rest follow suit. It’s so funny to remember them now, but I’m sure the neighbors hated us for a spell!!

  • Jefferson Coulter

    What is the Arlington Way? I hope its not just a process of holding the space to say “no” out of hand. Maybe its about spreading misinformation? i don’t know. So far, the opponents haven’t presented a single piece of evidence to support their arguments, meanwhile Richmond and Charlottesville have just passed backyard hen ordinances. Its worked in Seattle and Brooklyn for decades, and they are far denser than Arlington.

    • thegreatGU

      Jefferson you are wrong. Seattle is not as dense as Arlington is (US Census) and Brooklyn is having major problems with their chickens. NYC is currently in the process of amending the laws to require permits for chickens and it would require only a SFH to get the permit, and they must be at least 25 ft to nearest property line.

    • John Fontain

      “So far, the opponents haven’t presented a single piece of evidence to support their arguments”

      Do you expect people to take you seriously with claims like this?

  • Dirk Diggler

    Ed Fendley, the leader of this effort, is a buffoon. He was arguably the worst school board member in Arlington history, until he got run off by an angry elecorate. I am reflexively against anything that he is for, even if it were gumdrops and candycanes for all.

    • drax

      And that says alot about how you think.

    • Skeptic

      +10

    • Yawn

      No, he hopes to use the local pro chicken lobby to launch himself onto the county board. His record on the school board was questionable, since he didn’t deal with the overcrowding and opposed the renovation of Yorktown HS, so the parents won’t vote for him. He has to work a new group of blog reading, high rise residents that signed his petition at the farmers market.

      • drax

        “No, he hopes to use the local pro chicken lobby to launch himself onto the county board.”

        That’s said in jest, right?

  • HC Carey

    It’s hard for me to see why chicken waste is a bigger problem than dog waste. Or cats–is anybody worried abut cat waste entering the Chesapeake? No.

    What’s the problem? Limit it to 3 or four hens and be done with it. Three hens is not going to be some kind of neighborhood-destroying horror. I fail to understand why this issue gets people so freaked out.

    • South Awwlington

      Only guessing here but I would venture it has to do with the linkage to farm animals rather than mere domestic pets. I am not saying it’s wrong or right, only pointing to a possible cause. If we allow chickens, why not other small animals? If other small animals why not horses and cattle?

      • HC Carey

        Yes but why or why not would be subject to the same things that govern this decision. Because you allow three hens does not mean you have to allow 12 cows.

      • drax

        If we allow gay marriage, why not chicken marriage?

        • WeiQiang

          Hence, Cucinelli’s objection to animal husbandry. Plus, not having a rooster really messes with the correct paternalistic order of things.

        • South Awwlington

          hardy har-har.

          • drax

            I was making a point about the similarities in “logic” btw.

  • SouthPikeGuy

    Are they going to create new chickens, or are these chickens relocating from somewhere else?

    • South Awwlington

      Are the Chickens going to have sham Arlington addresses so their Chicks can Arlington schools?

      Will we spot red tractors with Maryland plates dropping their Chicks off?

    • Andrew

      Well, they would be new to Arlington.

      • dk

        apparently not, since according to posts above we already have plenty of chicken scofflaws in Arlington.

        mmmm, chicken….

        • drax

          Yep, we do, and the world hasn’t exploded.

    • WeiQiang

      If you bring 75 chickens, you get $1M from the state.

      • nom de guerre

        but they must be “new” chickens, preferably from New Jersey.

      • Bob

        Only if you agree to purchase $10 million worth of feed from local sellers.

        • WeiQiang

          … or imply to the Governor that you might and simply source it from wherever you darn well please.

          • Bob

            They maintain continued oversight after the money is awarded.

            Also, keep b*nging this chicken. You’re really digging your hole all the way to China.

          • WeiQiang

            What are you even talking about? What oversight? The only money actually on the table is the $1M grant. They’ll move their HQ. So what? Why is state money being used for 75 person office move for a subsidiary of a 70,000 person foreign-owned business? Finmeccanica will never move its HQ to Arlington. DRS could finance the move on Finmeccanica’s espresso budget.

            Are you referring to the mythical $10M? Read the article. “The relocation will coincide with an expansion of the regional office to more than 100 employees, and should bring in excess of $10 million of capital investment to the region.” Notwithstanding the mis-use of the term “capital investment”, the article [dare I say, willfully] conflates the HQ move with an already-planned expansion.

            Did you just mis-type or do you have a fact-based argument in there somewhere?

          • Bob
          • WeiQiang

            So, a press release from the Governor say “will” bring $10M. That’s your argument? At least WBJ tried to be factual and atribute the increase of specific number of employees and let folks understand that they were undergoing an expansion anyhow.

            The press release also says everything I referred to above. It’s all vagueness and doublespeak, trying to let everyone take credit. Even DRS’ CEO admitted that all that hard work with Arlington and VA only “helped to solidify and reinforce our decision.” Get that? They were already planning on doing it … the $10M was already going to happen. Heck, Vornado probably would have given DRS almost $1M in construction credits [for, ya' know, expansion] for leasing space in Crystal City.

            As for knowing what I’m talking about, I’ve been in the same business as DRS in Crystal City for over 20 yrs and I’ve been working alongside folks from DRS’ Crys City office for over 10 yrs. This move was in the works long before someone offered DRS $1M for PR purposes.

            “… digging your hole … to China”?? What IS that?

          • Bob

            So you never read the GOF Guidelines about the performance agreement attached to the capital investment requirement (yes, it is a requirement that they invest the $10 million) and how the $1 million will be recovered by the state if the performance agreement is not met? You just did not read that part? Or you did not understand the words?

            I am trying to understand where you missed that. Help me out.

          • WeiQiang

            Yeah, um, I whizzed through all 21 pages … did you look at the definitions of capital investment?

            In this case, only the General Guidelines apply and, so, unlike one might be led to believe by the press release, if Arlington only gets 50 jobs [not 75 or 100] and DRS spends only $5M [it NOT a requirement to spend $10M] – which they were ALREADY going to spend – then we’re good to go. As well, the definition of “capital investment” in the GOF guidelines are laughably easy to achieve. All they have to do is lease an office, do some construction (for which they’ll get construction credits AND GOF credit) and office equipment – again, which they were ALREADY going to do – and they get our money.

            Nothing in the GOF, the Governor’s PR, the WBJ article, or my discussions with my DRS colleagues convinces me that this was a wise use of my money.

          • Bob

            But you found the answer to your “What oversight?” question, right? You learned that the $10 million is not “mythical”, but written into the grant application, right?

            I mean, you can thank me later I guess. Sounds like you need some cool down time.

          • Josh S

            GONG.

            Argument lost – contestant disqualified on basis of coming across as an *sshole.

          • Josh S

            By the way, somehow this comment of mine stays but when I mention Rush Limbaugh elsewhere, it’s deleted.

          • drax

            So, are we getting 75 job openings, or just 75 people with jobs moving here? Still don’t know.

          • Sandy

            Arlington is gaining 75 new jobs because of this relocation.

  • daniel

    I grew up on a small family farm in Michigan that got rid of chickens in the 1960s, and the old chicken coop (turned into a toolshed) still smells today.

  • Skeptic

    “This just really borders on nonsense.”

    Yes, exactly. Now, can we move on to discussions of some importance instead of reinforcing all the stereotypes about kooks in Arlington?

    This is an -urban- area, it is not farmland. If you want to raise chickens, move.

    • drax

      So when are you going to ban dogs and cats, Skeptic?

      • Skeptic

        Since you really can’t tell the difference between a pet and a farm animal you’ve successfully undercut my argument. Arlington IS full of kooks; it’s not a stereotype.

        • WeiQiang

          Have you seen how some people take care of there pets? I’d bank on the chicken coops being cleaner.

        • drax

          Nice circular argument.

          A pet is an animal we call a pet. Nothing special about it.

          • John Fontain

            Most peoples’ dogs live inside their houses, not in cages outside near their neighbors’ yards. Whether you like it or not, there are differences between common pets and farm animals.

          • drax

            Most dogs live out in backyards too, John, fenced in. Very much like chickens. Don’t be silly.

            If I let my chickens roam the house and my yard and take them out on a leash, does that make them acceptable?

            The only reason you accept dogs but not chickens is because you are used to dogs, but not chickens. It’s cultural, not rational.

          • Elmer

            Want a pet elephant next to your residence?
            After all, its a pet. Nothing special about it.

          • drax

            Yes, there is something special about an elephant.

            There’s nothing special about the word “pet.” It’s completely arbitrary. That’s the point.

        • Marie Antoinette

          Amen, Skeptic! Now what to do about Walter “increase property tax for social and economic justice” Tejada? How do these buffoons get elected?

    • South Awwlington

      Raising chickens is the trendy, liberal thing to do. Just Kidding!!!

      No, but seriously – from a sustainability standpoint, it makes total sense. From a NIMBY standpoint, I don’t want it. You can force your lazy neighbors to maintain their property, how can force them to clean up their chicken $hit?

      • South Awwlington

        *Can’t force and Can force* Darn fingers type too fast sometimes.

      • Marie Antoinette

        From a SUSTAINABILITY standpoint???

        At what point did Arlington County–one of the most affluent in the United States–turn into a side-show town from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome? How on God’s green earth is this a “Sustainability” standpoint?

        3 words: Reductio ad absurdum

        Who run Barter-town? Really? You want to raise chickens, move to a farm. You want to enjoy breakfast with Eggs? Grilled Chicken for dinner? Go to Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway or any other number of grocery stores.

        • drax

          Seriouosly, Marie, familiarize yourself with terms before you bash them. Sustainability is hardly a Mad Maxxian idea.

          • marie antoinette

            Seriously, Drax? Seriously? LoL.

          • drax

            Yes, seriously.

            Arlington county is affluent, but it still is, in case you didn’t know, part of the earth.

    • HC Carey

      Or, change the law. That would work too.

  • ConstantCritic

    If my neighbors were raising chickens in their back yard, I’d want to raise a coyote in mine, In fact, maybe I’ll get a pet coyote anyway, and see if the neighbor’s cat still comes into my yard. yum.

  • BoredHouseWife

    what a bunch of chickens

  • drax

    Those of you who think “urban agriculture” is stupid don’t have vegetable gardens.

    Do you?

    • Herb

      Nope – I only have a me garden.

    • Elmer

      Yes, I have a vegetable garden, but no I don’t have “urban agriculture”.
      When we have John Deere tractors pulling streetcars down Col Pike then I’ll agree, we’ll have “urban agriculture”.
      BTW, Odd how those who always complain about the trolley coming up in Comments manage to work in digs at Cucinelli when its totally irrelevant to the subject.

      • Josh S

        ^ Victim of his own brain.

        Agriculture = John Deere tractors. Right.

  • Frank Perdue

    There are only about 30 properties that would be eligible based on the 100′ setbacks….

    • WeiQiang

      even the “pipe stem” lots?

      This explains the Mickey Simpson/Frank Perdue strategic alliance I read about this morning in the Wash Biz Journal.

  • HamDil

    I reported some chickens that my neighbors were keeping, and surprisingly they disappeared.

    • Huh?

      the chickens or the neighbors?

  • southarlington

    This is such a stupid idea if we allow chickens what is next thing we will allow because someone will push the line, a cow or pigs ? And having a urban garden is not the same as having a chicken coup so that really is a stupid camparison because the vegetables do not make noise and do not polluate the ground water. Complients to Code Enforcement do not get addressed because some issues are to much work for them and they do not want to work the issue…overcrowding ……

    • drax

      The slippery slop argument was debunked long ago,.

      • Neutrino

        I would never raise a chicken for any reason, but I agree that using slippery slope arguments to block it is simply lazy and without merit.

        • drax

          Yeah, first people are using the slippery slope argument, and then they’re using straw men, and then you don’t know where that’s going to lead.

          • Marie Antoinette

            Tin men that don’t have heart?

    • HC Carey

      A “chicken coup” would indeed be something to worry about

  • Roquer

    Stay tuned for chicken rustling!

  • Deborah

    Being an animal rights advocate, I’d want to make sure the animals were treated humanely. Would the animals be allowed to live out their natural lives at which point they’d be euthanized?

    • Col. Sanders

      Oh, yeah, they’ll be “euthanized.”

    • Treat chicks with respect

      No, we will compliment our locally produced eggsvwith a free range chicken dinner. Most hens are only productive egg layers for 2 or 3 years. Does the menopause hen get to retire gracefully by getting exempted from the maximum chicken limit rule?

      Some people will take them out to our more remote parks and abandon them. They won’t last long with predators.

    • Arlingtonian

      They will be eaten.

  • John Fontain

    Would backyard chicken proponents be ok with a requirement to get written agreement from all abutting neighbors prior to zoning approval?

    • WeiQiang

      How about a chicken beer garden?

      • Marie Antoinette

        Wei, where do i sign? :)

    • southarlington

      I think that is a prefect idea and if one person opposes no chicken for you !!!

      • Marie Antoinette

        lol, I just recently discovered ARLnow and I enjoy the back and forth. Clever bunch of cats for sure.

  • Larchmont

    My backyard fox family are pro chickens. I’m borderline NIMBY.

    • Arlingtonian

      Your backyard fox family will not be pro chickens after the chickens arrive. The family will be dead.

      Do you really think that anyone is going to permit foxes, hawks, loose dogs, cats and other varmints to feast on their chickens? Not a chance.

      As soon as the feathers, blood, guts and corpses show up in the chicken coop, the urban agriculturist is going to buy a can of poison. Within a short time, most of the neighborhood’s wildlife and loose pets will disappear.

      Nobody is raising this issue. The chicken lovers won’t mention it. The opponents can’t see the obvious.

      • Chick

        Seriously?

      • Answer Guy

        My gun is bigger than any chicken growing fools.

  • Elmer

    Amen, Atta’ Boy and High Five!

  • Harlan Sanders

    I oppose. If people want chicken to eat, then go buy it. Same with eggs.

  • Meh

    I don’t see the harm in doing a one or two year trial program with up to 100 properties that can have a max of 3 or 4 hens, and re-evaluate. I think it’s a little silly, but I don’t think hens will cause any more noise, smell, or pollution than other animals.

    We should be able to learn enough from the other places that have tried this to avoid any big issues.

  • Jakedog

    Many other cities have passed laws allowing small numbers of hens in backyards without much fuss. As far as the pollution issue, I would think using eggs from my backyard would be less harmful to the Bay than eggs produced in the chicken factories on the delmarva pennisula?

    • Stuart22207

      You probably would think that, but you would be wrong.

      • drax

        Perhaps they would be the same level of harm to the bay. But not more harmful, since every egg you get from your backyard is an egg you don’t get from a farm for a net of zero chicken poop.

      • Josh S

        ^ This message paid for and approved by the Delmarva Chicken Grower’s Assoc.

    • chicken factories?

      I’m guessing that the people who want to raise chickens don’t buy the factory-farmed eggs. They buy organic, free-range eggs from the supermarket or buy at the farmer’s market. So this argument has no merit.

      • drax

        Um, no, it still has merit, because free-range organic chickens poop just as much as a chicken in a factory or a yard.

        This all assumes that all are equally likely to end up in waterways. Perhaps organic farms are more careful with their poop disposal, I don’t know. Backyard chicken owners would probably be more careful with it since they will want to control the stink.

      • Lloyd

        Also, with less need for chicken egg factories, they will have fewer chickens, resulting is less chicken factory poop, therefore less energy production from the secondary uses for said factory chicken poop. The net result has to include inflated energy costs due to backyard chicken raisers.

        • WeiQiang

          ahh … but also less demand for energy because of the distributed production of eggs

          • Lloyd

            No, people still have to drive to the store for other stuff.

    • GardenGuy

      Like most things, it depends. A very effective way to keep chickens in an urban environment is in a moveable chicken “tractor” – which is nothing more than a moveable coup without a floor or raised, with a mesh floor. The tractor can be put over garden beds and rotated which creates very useful fertalizer for your garden. This would reduce or eliminate the need to spread store-bought fertilizer (which would end up in the bay as well). There are other synergies that can be had as well but it does depend on the owner and proper care. The small number of chickens proposed to be allowed per houshold and the percentage of housholds that would likely take advantage of the right to keep chickens means the impact is likely to be very minimal either way.

      • Josh S

        Wait a second, you’re actually talking like you know what you’re doing here.

        That’s not allowed on this thread – it’s purely for conjecture purposes…..

        • GardenGuy

          My grandparents lived in Astoria, NY (down the street from Tony Bennett) in a rowhouse and had chickens, a garden and my grandfather had a grape vine that he made wine with in the basement. All on about a 4000 sq ft lot.

        • nom de guerre

          I’m not too sure about that. A structure that houses chickens is referred to as a “coop” which rhymes with poop. A chicken
          “coup” sounds like some type of fowl uprising or revolution to me.

          • WeiQiang

            I’m not sure that’s unintentional. The opponents of the coops may genuinely be concerned about poultry hegemony … and the coup is only the start.

            Given the way that industrial fowl are treated, I’m not sure that a Chicken Coup isn’t the most bold first strike by the abused fowl. Give the opponents some credit for warning us of poultry hegemony.

          • nom de guerre

            If this is the case we have a lot to be concerned with. It appears that the chickens will have access to a moveable “tractor” which will allow them to access remote parts of Arlington, including Donaldson Run and other highly strategic locations. What if KEV decides to arm them with military grade weapons? Perish the thought!

          • drax

            “remote parts of Arlington, including Donaldson Run”

            Donaldson Run isn’t in Arlington. You should know that. It’s an independent principality, but 95% underwater.

          • WeiQiang

            What? Chickens with only a right wing?

            The chickens may get a “tractor”, but ACPD has THIS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GURKHA_MAPV_Police_Truck.jpg

      • drax

        If I had a chicken tractor, I’d call it a Coop de Ville.

        But alas, I am forbidden.

  • soarlslacker

    What the hell! Eggs are not $100 a dozen at the store. Why do people need to raise their own hens for eggs? How many darn eggs do these people eat.
    I like fish and seafood, but I am not installing a saltwater pond to raise my own. Somehings should be left to the professionals. My neighbors are not capalble of watching their own offspring…I would hate to see them barely care for hens as well.

    • Josh S

      ^ Another victim of his own brain.

      Yes.We.Should.All.Consume. From.Authorized.Outlets.Nonconformists.Will.Be.Ostracized.

    • drax

      So are vegetable gardens stupid too, soarslacker?

      Another poster trapped in his own thought bubble.

  • WeiQiang

    Wow … I had an epiphany! Stick with me: if you put [artfully constructed] chicken coops around the water treatment plant, you could both eliminate the odor argument AND obviate the need for a $350K artistic fence around the plant AND create your own performance art space. Chickisphere? Win-win-win.

    • nom de guerre

      Sounds like a viable concept, but it might require more work. I propose the addition of etched glass, a Sam’s Corner food truck, chicken clothing boutique and parking meters. This would also entail applying for the dreaded live entertainment permit.

    • nom de guerre

      Would said artistic, mobile chicken coop be LEED certified?

  • ChickenNoob

    Question – If this gets passed, I’d like to keep chickens, but the boneless kind so when their egg laying days are over, they are easy to, uh.. prepare? But, would the boneless kind be more at risk to predators, because – how do they run without bones ?

    • drax

      They don’t need to run. They ooze into cracks in the ground and hide.

  • http://nationleprechaun.com/ jinushaun

    I don’t buy the arguments against it. My family raised two hens in Seattle and we never had problems with noise, smell or poop.

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