Council Members Raise Concerns About Bill To Increase Backyard Chickens In Frederick County

It would allow residents to raise chicken on properties of less than three acres

Frederick, Md (KM) Raising backyard chickens could be expanded in Frederick County. The Council on Tuesday discussed a bill sponsored by Councilman Mason Carter to allow residents to own  eight or fewer chickens on lots of  30,000 square feet. Roosters would be prohibited, and any chicken coop, pen or stall could only be placed no closer than 25 feet away from a lot line.

Carter says this legislation came about after he spoke with a constituent who wanted to keep chickens on property of less than three acres, which is the current requirement. “In this current process, he has a residentially zoned property under three acres. To have a farm animal on your property, such as chickens, you would need to submit a written application, attend a Board of Appeals meeting, and request approval,”; he says.

But some Council members raised concerns about this bill. Councilman Steve McKay said if this legislation passes, it may not take precedence over regulations drafted by a Homeowners Association which prohibits raising backyard chickens in their neighborhoods. “The county may pass this law which enables and allows you to do it on a smaller property.; However, if you live in an HOA that does restrict that, those more restrictive covenants will override,” he said.

Councilwoman Renee Knapp said she’s concerned about the disposal of carcasses after these chickens die. “I’m a little concerned with avian flu. What could we do to protect the County from burying dead chickens. We don’t know how deep into the ground. So I would definitely want to see some additional language about  what to do with deceased  chickens, especially if there’s eight,” she said.

Her  colleague, Councilwoman MC Keegan-Ayer, said there doesn’t appear to be a provision in the bill which requires chickens be penned. “I know that there is a house within the city of Frederick and it’s on a major road that has free range chickens. Many of those chickens have met their demise because they’re free range chickens and it’s on a busy road,” Keegan-Ayer says.

Councilman Carter said he wanted to keep it simple. “We’re putting this forward because we want this be used. We want this to be accessible,” he says. “Bringing down from three acres to 30,000 square feet is going to open a number of properties across the county.”

Another fellow Councilman, Jerry Donald, raised  another concern. “They do make noise, even without a rooster there. There will be some people who will have a problem with it. Just letting you know. Forewarned.,” he said.

The City of Frederick allows residents to raise no more than six hens on residential property with certain restrictions.

By Kevin McManus