Chicken advocates (copy)

The Frederick Board of Aldermen on Thursday approved an amendment to the city code to permit up to six hens on residential properties.

After a scrambled start that ruffled more than a few feathers, efforts to allow backyard chickens in the city of Frederick have successfully hatched.

The Frederick Board of Aldermen on Thursday approved an amendment to the city code to permit up to six hens on residential properties. Existing city code barred all residential livestock, including chickens.

The 4-1 vote represented the culmination of more than a year of research, advocacy and community engagement spearheaded by a small group of fowl-friendly residents. But the final product was worth the time and deliberation, officials and community members agreed.

Several aldermen noted that although they were originally unsure, or even opposed to the idea of domestic hens in the city, the group’s thoughtful efforts to address concerns and seek input from all sides of the issue were something to crow about.

Alderwoman Kelly Russell thanked the group for serving as a role model for how local residents can work to change city laws in a civil manner.

Jeff Raney, city resident and leader of the pro-chicken group, also emphasized the importance of advocating for change peacefully.

“We didn’t feel that coming in here and slamming our fists on the podium ... was the right way to get chickens in the city of Frederick,” Raney said. “Our goal was to write an ordinance that we believe encourages responsible ownership of a safe animal.”

Raney characterized the final legislation as “perfect.”

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, who cast the sole vote against the ordinance amendment, cited her concerns with the requirements for hen enclosures and a lack of protection for neighbors of prospective chicken owners.

Despite her no vote, she also praised the local advocates.

“You truly epitomized citizen involvement in Frederick,” she said.

The approved legislation includes specific provisions and restrictions on the quantity of, care for and enclosures of the birds.

Restrictions and rules are as follows:

  • Eligibility:
  • City residents with individually owned backyards and a lot size of at least 2,500 square feet.
  • Number:
  • One for every 500 square feet of backyard area, with a maximum of six chickens.
  • Type:
  • Hens only, no roosters.
  • Process:
  • Applications approved and licenses given through the public works department.
  • Enclosures:
  • Hens must be kept in covered, predator-resistant henhouse or coop. The coop must also be within either a fenced backyard or a fenced-in enclosure at least 4 feet high.
  • Enforcement:
  • Those who violate the regulations in the ordinance can have their licenses revoked or suspended and their birds seized and impounded by animal control officers.

The amended ordinance will take effect July 1. Raney, as well as several other city residents who spoke in support of the proposal Thursday, indicated after the public hearing that they planned to apply for licenses to own chickens as soon as possible.

New tool for fighting blight approved

The aldermen also approved on Thursday an ordinance that would bolster city blight-fighting efforts.

The legislation passed by a unanimous vote allows the city to fine the lending institution or buyer of a foreclosed property for failing to register the sale with the state’s Foreclosed Property Registry within the required deadline. In essence the law would encourage lending institutions to take responsibility earlier for foreclosed properties and not let them sit so long without repair or sale. Under Maryland code, a foreclosure purchaser must submit initial registration within 30 days after a foreclosure sale of a residential property. Final registration must be submitted no later than 30 days after the deed of ownership is transferred.

The city ordinance will fine the buyer up to $1,000 for failure to register eligible city properties on the foreclosure registry within the state-required deadlines.

The ordinance introduced by Alderwoman Kelly Russell in a workshop in March piggybacks on a bill considered by a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates in the 2016 legislative session. That bill, by Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, was referred to a summer study, along with several similar proposals from other lawmakers, The News-Post has reported.

Krimm’s bill, as proposed, sought to require secured parties to register with the state’s Foreclosed Property Registry when they first file a foreclosure action, instead of the current practice of registering after the foreclosure sale is final.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(59) comments

Skeetpea

I'll reiterate what I stated in my comment the last time this came up. While I'm certainly not opposed to folks keeping a backyard flock, my hope would be that those considering keeping chickens thoroughly research what it takes to keep a healthy backyard flock. My concern would be more for the chickens that some might find were a little more time consuming and destructive than what they had anticipated at their initial excitement with the passing of this ordinance. Chickens love nothing more than to free range over large areas. If you're the type of person that values their lawn and garden beds then I would say chickens wouldn't be your cup of tea. A great online resource for all things fowl is backyardchickens.com.

doitforahobby

When is the next election. Just vote the ones who approved this out. Maybe then they will get the message.

gary4books

To be honest I do not want to offend anyone, but I like the idea of giving people the means to have very fresh food in their diets. This can expand to small home gardens and really fresh vegetables. Strawberries and tomatoes are much better when grown at home or very close to the consumer.

public-redux

I recently finished reading "H is for Hawk" by Helen MacDonald about, among other things, her training of a goshawk. Her hawk took down some pheasants and rabbits. A chicken is definitely not too large to be prey for a few species of hawk in Maryland.

Good book, by the way. In addition to reporting her own experiences, she recounts the misguided efforts of T.H. White to train a hawk. White later wrote the Arthurian books "The Sword in the Stone" and "The Once and Future King". There are some fascinating parallels between Arthur in "Sword in the Stone" and White's own somewhat horrific childhood. Also, some parallels between White and the Merlin. White lived in a small cottage in the words and had an owl named Archimedes, for example.

Comment deleted.
DickD

Because we don't want anybody to get bright ideas and do it NIMBY.

jwhamann

Grow some pot while you're at it. The chicken poop aroma should cover it.

DickD

Great fertilizer too, if it doesn't kill it. It is strong.

Nuklearweasel

[beam] [whistling] Man, look at all the salty anti chicken people on here. Listen people...educate yourselves. Take 5 mins - read the ordinance and understand that the police department, and Frederick Animal Control co-signed this legislation saying it doesn't affect them. The ordinance and enforcement of it is so perfect in fact that it changed the minds of at least two Alderman who were initially opposed to it. Give credit where credit is due.

Chickens do not smell. Especially ones that allowed to move freely around a fenced in back yard instead of being stacked up on top of each other like in a factory farm. Try to understand that 6 chickens in a 1/4 acre lot is microscopic. Especially if you compare it to other pets like 3 or 4 big dogs which produce orders of magnitude more solid waste that is NOT compostable.

And if you still can't wrap your mind around this - try to imagine how many people you know that grow a veggie garden or make their own beer. If you know maybe one or two - then that's probably how many people will have chickens in or across town. If that still bothers you, then you are welcome to move elsewhere, like an HOA or very densely packed city where they are still not legal.

DickD

They do smell and Frederick is densely packed and we prefer you to move.

rbtdt5

I live in Frederick and I don't care if you want chickens.

Nuklearweasel

No, they don't. If you've had less than a dozen chickens that have ample room to range, like 2500 square feet. They will never smell. They only smell when they are stuck in a small spot and not allowed to run around the back yard.[thumbdown]

doitforahobby

Chicken feed also draws rodents. If you feed them they will come.

Nuklearweasel

human trash attracts more rodents than a sealed bucket of chicken feed.

Glen Shiel

Chickens are suppose to eat feed out of a sealed bucket? The ones we had on the farm I grew up on ate it off the ground, along with the rodents.

Dwasserba

But there are also usually free range cats on a farm to handle the rodents, which the city doesn't permit, so...

Nuklearweasel

Chickens eat the feed almost immediately after you throw it on the ground. Are you saying that if there's rodents in your neighbors yard that it must be because of chickens?

frederickhistory

If you want chickens in your yard then you need to move to the country and have all the chickens you want.
This is why we live in the City we don't want chickens in our yards!
Would someone please start a petition against this insanity!
People do work and cannot attend meetings at 3pm during the work week for chickens in the City this should be a non issue its the City not the Country
The Mayor and Alderman are a disgrace I hope the chickens live beside them and stink up there yards and destroy their property values with the stinch

Comment deleted.
DickD

Didn't know they just passed an ordinance on dogs, when did that happen? Dogs are not normally kept fenced in a back yard and most people do not have six of them.

rbtdt5

Most people aren't going to have chickens, but they'll be allowed to.

DickD

Hopefully, the City Aldermen are ready for all the complaints they are likely to receive. You cannot feel sorry for those that do not want chickens, chicken poop, diseases, etc. caused by chickens, as they did not voice their opposition to NIMBY. They have no one to blame, except yourself and to some degree those aldermen that do not understand, a city is not the place for livestock.

Nuklearweasel

Ooooh here comes Dick Darr...drawn to every article about chickens like the proverbial flies to poop. [blink] Your antiquated definition of 'livestock' does not pre-suppose that owning a few birds as pets is the actual goal of the ordinance.

Chickens are not inherently disease carrying monsters that you make them out to be. A small flock of 4 birds produces less waste than one big dog - and it is 100% compostable, Dick.

It's more likely that you do not understand scientific facts and reportable diseases. So take your fear mongering ignorance elsewhere. Move to Brunswick if you don't want someone else across town to own chickens.

DickD

I grew up in the country. My brother in law almost died from chicken crap, after he cleaned out a hen house. Tell your story to him, personally, I don't believe it.

rbtdt5

Getting sick from chicken poop is rare. You can get get ill or even die from the dust but only if your not being careful or using common sense.

Nuklearweasel

[thumbdown] Dick - you're the worst troll ever. Get back under your bridge. First of all - the same story is used by everyone I know who is over the age of 50 and hates chickens. Their cousin's brother's uncles' former roommate once got sick from chickens!!! That must be all the anecdotal evidence we need for you to be RIGHT. Do me a favor and go on the CDC web site and look up transmissible diseases between chickens and humans - then tell me how many of them are reportable in the state of MD. Go on - I'll wait. [batman]

ajdayton

Well it's been a few years coming, but Frederick has decided to join the majority of cities around the country that allow for this. In the quantity people will be allowed to keep there will be no smell. It's a common misconception. The city has placed a small portion of food production in the hands of it's residents. Eggs will be one food item that you have control over, and can know for certain came from a healthy environment. Congrats to the people of Frederick and the forward thinking of the Board of Aldermen.

DickD

Apparently you have never been in a barn yard, there is a smell, chickens will scratch up all the dirt to get insects and you will have dirt for a back yard, loaded with chicken poop.

Nuklearweasel

[spam] you still don't know what you're talking about Dick. You've apparently never owned a small flock of birds in your backyard. Which does not equal =/= barnyard.

rbtdt5

That's just not true, but even it were, why would you be concerned with my yard. Currently where I live some people take great care of their yards, others are mostly weeds or dirt.

public-redux

Suppose I have a rooster who identifies as a hen?

Glen Shiel

[lol][thumbup]

DickD

Better tell that rooster he can only go to the male restroom.[tongue_smile]

Glen Shiel

This is Maryland Dick, the rooster can use whichever one he identifies with on any given day. [whistling]

DickD

I know, glad it is that way, no need for a law where there is not a problem.

Whatsup

[lol][lol][lol][lol][lol][lol][thumbup]

snapdragon

[smile]

richardlyons

Mayor Bagel and the BOA taking care of the peoples business.

frederickhistory

The City of Frederick better be hiring more Code Enforcement Officers
This will be an issue people will not be cleaning the crap from the chickens and the smell be the new scent of Frederick.... We really have some stupid people on this board. Ignorant people do not even pick up behind there dogs let alone a chicken..
I hope they live next to on of the irresponsible chicken owners.
This is just ridiculous!

Nuklearweasel

You sound so salty - that you might be from the Dead Sea - the saltiest place on earth!

DickD

You must be a Trump supporter with all your name calling.

Nuklearweasel

[offtopic] [spam] No - I'm not a Drumpf supporter.

rbtdt5

what name was called?

joelp77440

I agree with the code enforcement officers. Most people will not pay attention to the 2500sq foot rule. There are chickens behind my house on 7th street(they don't care about the law) and they have 3 in about a 600sq foot spot.

Nuklearweasel

call the city code enforcement office if they are breaking the rules then, instead of complaining about it on FNP.

rbtdt5

Come on, it's way more fun to complain and gossip and tell half truths on the FNP than do something about a situation.

cctjr64

Well chickens today, pigs and billy goats tomorrow. Now I'm curious what the historical commission is going to do when someone wants to put a hen house in the backyard when their house is in the historical district of Frederick.

jwhamann

Baker Park was once a cow pasture.

DickD

And there was a time when only Indians were in the U.S.

Nuklearweasel

Wawwww - it's the slippery slope of saltiness.

DickD

My question is who is responsible for counting chickens?[innocent]

Nuklearweasel

Animal control, LMV, all that is outlined in the legislation...if you would just...read it...before posting dumb questions. [spam]

DickD

[ban]

Nuklearweasel

[[censored]

jwhamann

Quit with the juvenile idioms, Miss Lavin.

Glen Shiel

She probably thought they were cute and clever. They weren't, they're old.

Nuklearweasel

They weren't that bad - it was cute. She's the PUN-isher.

Glen Shiel

[yawn]

DickD

Good night, Glen. [sleeping]

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