Arlington County backyard chicken debate: Group pushes for looser standards

Arlington currently has strong restrictions on where chickens can be housed. (Photo: Flickr/Miss Meng)

Changes could soon be coming to the laws that restrict Arlington County residents from raising and keeping chickens in their backyards.

The Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss the potential changes, which would loosen the currently stringent restrictions on backyard chickens.

At present, Arlington residents are allowed to keep chickens in their backyard as long as they are not allowed to roam free and their enclosure stays 100 feet from any street or property line.

These restrictions make it virtually impossible for most residential property owners to keep chickens. Arlington County says that residents would need roughly a half-acre of lands to meet the requirements.

Pictures are all that are left of Katie Henry's 12 chickens which once used to occupy a backyard hen house at her Williamsburg Street home. A neighbor complained that the winged creatures were attracting rats, so the chickens had to go.

The chickens produced about a dozen eggs a day, Henry said. "They were great. I don't believe for a second they were bringing rats in the neighborhood at all."

The Arlington Egg Project is the organization pushing for changes to the county's zoning ordinances.

The Project says it has the backing of 1,000 county residents who want the freedom to raise their own food.

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