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The Lorton Perspective: Urban Chickens in Your Neighborhood

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Want some really fresh eggs with breakfast?

Fairfax County is exploring the possibility of easing restrictions on owning urban chickens.

Current Fairfax County regulations allow up to 32 chickens on properties of two or more acres. Chicken coops and other structures must be 50 feet from any lot line and there is a $910 fee to apply for a special exception with the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Directed by chicken owner and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D), County staff are looking into the possibility and legalities involved in creating a pilot program for a Domestic Fowl Overlay District in the Mount Vernon area.

The model would be based on Prince William County, which adopted a DFOD last spring. There, up to 10 chickens are allowed on properties of one acre or more. Prince William homeowners living outside the chicken district can't house chickens unless the property is on 10 or more acres. 

Regulations in other areas vary widely.

A group in Arlington County has been pushing officials there to allow backyard chicken farming. Chickens are legal in Alexandria City, but only for residents who can house the chickens at least 200 feet from their closest neighbor.

Lorton Perspective

Patch asked Lorton residents about the issue at the . Here's what they said: 

Gregory Markley recently retired from the Marine Corps:

"I'm definitely not down with that. One of the reasons I live in Lorton is that it is not a farming community. Chickens bring filth and with them come rats and other vermin. I don't want this place to turn into Mexico. I've been to Mexico."

Hieu Phan was at the Library with his daughter:

"I think people should be able to have chickens in their back yard as long as they have the appropriate homes and care. They shouldn't bother the neighbors, but overall, this is their back yard and people should have the choice to use it."

Jennifer Resner doesn't want chickens in her neighborhood:

"I think our properties around here are small enough and it would be a disturbance to our urban lifestyle. I don't feel that families are home enough to supervise their chickens, and I don't think eggs are really that expensive."

* See Patch's article on Barbara Jacksier, a .

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Kenny Head March 01, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Fresh eggs sounds great, but, I need more info about the safety aspect of having chikens so close by. Is there any health issues? Will chickens attract animals of prey such as foxes? Will there be any controls on how they must be contained on the property, such as coups? Or can they wonder around freely? Several years ago I had a neighbor that kept chickens on a less than 1 acre lot. He allowed the chickens to roam free. They even went in and out of his house. But I must admit they never came on my propery or caused me any concerns. So before I say yes I need more info on the restrictions.
Sally Spangler March 01, 2012 at 02:57 PM
My only thought on all of this is not vermin around the chickens - it is city people who know nothing but have the right criteria for keeping hens - Hens, no roosters. I have lived where roosters made their presence known. They aren't at all bad. It is the locals near me with their VERY LOUD THUMPING "MUSIC" late at night, but every late at night - THUMPING LOUD enough to reverberate off my house.
James Cullum March 01, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Sally, what do you think about making a special district for chickens only in Mount Vernon? No roosters!
Sally Spangler March 04, 2012 at 04:01 PM
As long as the hens didn't run free - that is without any fencing restrictions. Hens are not necessarily a farm only bird, they are pets, raised for poultry shows and lastly a few hens for eggs and when they grow too old - dinner <grin>. Two acres? If they have their own yard - properly secured from predators, i.e. foxes, skunks, raccoons, snakes, hawks, crows, I imagine could be predators, would mean tight wire enclosures, to include a top. The entire space? That I don't know, Virginia Department of Agriculture probably has all the information needed. How many people would be interested? That is the crux of the hens for eggs idea. We used to have at least two places in Lorton who had hens. Both are gone now. But neither one lived on properties of two acres. You city people could move back where you would be more comfortable with more people in closer spaces between residences. For me? I moved here in 1954 from an apartment house just off Columbia Road, NW. Don't miss it at all!
Devona Bell Sherwood March 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I would definitely have chickens if the law changed. But, I have just less than a 1/2 acre and need the law to allow for back-yard chickens, 2-4 hens, in that space. We do not live in a communist country, why shouldn't I be allowed to have a couple of chickens in my large backyard. A neighbor of mine has about 10 cats and that is legal! I am severely allergic to corn and corn is used on everything (including on top of commercial chicken eggs, which seeps into the eggs). I should have the right to have my own chickens for personal egg consumption.

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