Backyard chickens used to be a common sight throughout urban areas until zoning laws began to restrict them. With the rise of mass egg ranching leading to cheaper eggs, the backyard flock was seen as less than a necessity. Recently, backyard chickens have begun to make a comeback. Many municipalities have relaxed zoning laws. But not all towns and cities have followed suit and this often leads to confusion for potential chicken owners. Here are a few things to know about chickens and zoning laws.
Typical traditional poultry laws:
Just because your area hasn't changed their zoning ordinances doesn't mean you can't keep them. Most cities allow small scale poultry keeping, including ducks, pigeons, and turkeys, within the city limit. The problem is that there are usually large setback and housing requirements that rule out most of the people being eligible. Unless you have a large yard, live on a corner lot or live on the edge of a canyon, you may be out of luck. If your property is zoned as agricultural, you have a better chance.
Newer backyard chicken laws:
Recently, many municipalities have relaxed the laws to allow for a small number of chickens to be kept in most single family housing areas. Commonly, these areas are restricted to five or less chickens, though it can vary between areas and conditions. Cincinnati, for example, allows up to ten chickens. Almost always, roosters are not allowed. The changes to these laws mostly pertain to chickens. Other poultry, such as ducks, often fall under the old rules.
Before getting chickens:
It's important that you know the specific laws regarding keeping chickens before purchasing any. Even if you're zoned as agricultural, there still might be restrictions. Check with your city or other local governing body's code enforcement officer for the current laws. Many cities post their laws online, or code enforcement can also be reached by phone. Additional permits or a property inspection may be required. If you need help with interpreting the laws or filling out the forms, an attorney specializing in zoning laws can help. Be sure to keep copies of any ordinances, paperwork, and purchase receipts for the chickens to keep on file in case zoning laws change.
Keeping chickens can be a fun and rewarding hobby. It's important to do your research and get legal advice, if necessary, before getting your first flock. Make sure you follow all the laws, including how the chickens are housed and kept. By doing so, you should be able to keep your chickens for a long time to come. For more information about zoning laws, contact a professional like Timothy G. Mara.