Debate over backyard chickens brews in Arlington

Whether chickens can be kept as pets is under consideration in Arlington.

A debate is brewing in Arlington County over urban farming. While we’ve seen plenty of people growing their own fruits and vegetables, something new is people raising their own chickens just steps from their back door.

Some people raise children, but, if you’re the Blevins family, you raise chickens.

“We don’t have grandchildren. We have two grand-chickens and their names are Chicken & Rice and Chicken Noodle,” said Linda-Carol Blevins.

Linda-carol lives in Vienna, Va. where making hens “family” is no problem.
“They don’t make any noise. These chickens don’t smell. You get fresh, organic eggs,” Blevins said.

She can house up to 20 in her backyard. But over in Arlington, it’s a different story. Zoning rules prohibit live poultry from being within 100 feet of any street or lot line.

“There are very few homes eligible to have backyard chickens under today’s rules,” said Jay Fisette, an Arlington County Board Member.

Fisette says the county may eventually loosen the restrictions. It signed on an urban agriculture task force to weigh the pros and cons of backyard hens.

“Personal thoughts? It seems like it might smell a little bit. I probably guess it’d be a lot more work than people probably expect,” said Arlington resident Doug Younger.

“I think there should probably be a limit on how many chickens people have…You don’t want to bother people. We live so closely here,” said Arlington resident Joanne Holland.

Blevins says there is no need to worry. In her community, chickens are becoming a beloved addition.

Over a thousand people signed a petition calling for Arlington to allow backyard hens. The county board is expected to vote on the issue next year ater extensive public review and comment.