Urban chickens now allowed in Richmond backyards

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Monday night ended the year-long battle for backyard chickens. Richmond City Council unanimously approved a zoning amendment that allows people to keep chickens within city limits.

Dozens with a penchant for poultry came to City Hall to show their support and city council members showed they heard their pleas.

"Chickens make great pets, they're entertaining, they're quiet," said one urban chicken supporter. "They make eggs and are great for pest control."

"Having chickens is a God-given right," said another. "And the Constitution backs that right up."

A person or family can now keep up to 4 hens in their backyard. Roosters aren't allowed and the chickens must be kept in a coop at least 15 feet away from adjacent properties.

However, even with those restrictions, feathers were ruffled. Some said they are worried about cock fights. Other say, Richmond is too dense for the feathered companions.

"Most backyards are decorative and enjoyed for relaxation and entertainment," said Roger Whitfield, President of the Fan District Association. "The presence of neighbors' chickens could significantly change that."

Persons with chickens must pay an annual fee of $60.

City Council President Charles Samuels did warn that if the Richmond chicken population gets out of control, there could be a cap on the number of applications the city will accept to keep chickens. There could also be a cap on the number of the chickens allowed across the city.

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