The next step in the county’s process toward establishing new urban agriculture policies — most notably the possibility of allowing backyard hen raising — will come next month.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan will present the county staff’s response to the Urban Agriculture Task Force’s recommendations during a work session Nov. 12.
The task force’s recommendations were presented to the County Board in June, and included these suggestions for backyard chickens:
- Maximum of 4 hens
- No roosters
- Set back at least 20 feet from property lines
- Must file plans for coop and its placement
- Majority of adjacent property holders (within 50 feet of the coop) must consent
- Coop inspection required before occupancy
UATF staff liaison Kimberly Haun said she is unsure when the County Board may take action on the Food Action Plan. Residents are encouraged to attend the public work session but will not be able to participate. Haun said additional specifics about the staff response would not be made available before the meeting.
The task force also made several other, less controversial recommendations:
- Appoint a standing Commission on Urban Agriculture
- Integrate urban agriculture into county planning documents
- Create new community gardens and urban farms, utilizing rooftops and fallow land awaiting development if possible
- Permitting federal SNAP benefits (food stamps) at all Arlington famers markets (currently only a couple accept SNAP)
- Encourage the establishment of a “local food hub” to match up residential food producers with distributors and consumers
- Encourage the creation of additional Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs
- Support additional healthy eating and urban agriculture education in schools and libraries
- Repurpose the historic Reeves farmhouse as a center for urban agriculture education for Arlington school students
- Establish a municipal composting system