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Boonsboro says no to chickens

September 06, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • The Boonsboro Town Council Tuesday rejected a proposed amendment to its zoning ordinance that would have permitted residents to raise chickens.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

The Boonsboro Town Council Tuesday rejected a proposed amendment to its zoning ordinance that would have permitted residents to raise chickens.

The issue came up in July after several residents expressed interest in raising chickens for eggs in their backyards, according to Town Planner Megan Clark.

The town council voted 5-1 in July to introduce an ordinance allowing domesticated chickens in town — up to three hens per lot in the residential, suburban residential and rural residential districts.

The town's planning commission had recommended approving the change.

At a public hearing on Aug. 1, several residents spoke against allowing chickens, with one suggesting that the town could turn into a "zoo."

On Tuesday, the town council agreed with the opponents and voted 6-0 against the possible zoning ordinance amendment.

"The people had spoken on that," Councilwoman Barbara Wetzel said, referring to the opposition.

Assistant Mayor Howard Long said residents elect their leaders to represent them.

Councilwoman Janeen Solberg complimented the planning commission for addressing a question that some people had asked.

"They brought it front and center," Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman said.

Tuesday's vote will force David Gray Sr. to get rid of the three hens on his property on North Main Street.

Clark said Gray will have 30 days to do that or he'll be fined.

Under the proposed amendment, roosters would not have been allowed. Hens would have been required to be in enclosures at least 20 feet from property lines.

For a story in Sunday's Herald-Mail, Gray said he became interested in raising chickens after reading a book about using backyard agriculture to become more self sufficient.

He said he didn't know that the town's zoning ordinance doesn't allow chickens when he bought them six months ago.

Other towns in Washington County also don't allow chickens. Hagerstown permits them only in an Agricultural Transition zoning district.

Washington County allows chickens in Agriculture, Residential Rural and all rural area zoning districts.

Washington County Senior Planner Jill Baker has said the county planning department sometimes gets as many as three or four calls a week from residents interested in raising chickens.

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