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Keeping Livestock Ordinance Amendments
On June 27, 2017, City Council approved a resolution that directs the Planning Commission to consider and make recommendations concerning proposed amendments to Articles 3, 6, 10, and 14 of the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance to clarify and correct provisions related to the keeping of livestock on residential properties in the A-1, Agricultural District and the RE-1, Residential Estate District.
Staff is working closely with stakeholder groups, including the Chesapeake Small Farmers Coalition, Agricultural Advisory Commission, and the local chapter of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, to ensure the proposed ordinance reflect the needs of the agricultural community.
What the proposed ordinance will do:
Resolve conflicting sections of the Zoning Ordinance regarding the keeping of livestock on properties zoned A-1 and RE-1.
Will ensure consistent interpretation and enforcement of regulations related to the keeping of livestock on properties zoned A-1 and RE-1.
What the proposed ordinance will not do:
Will not take away the ability to keep livestock, including horses, on smaller A-1 and RE-1 zoned properties.
Will not impact the ability to keep honey bees in residential zoning districts.
Will not impact the ability to keep hens in residential zoning districts.
Will not rezone any property.
At its October 11,
If you have any questions regarding this effort or would like to submit your comments regarding proposed amendments, please contact the Planning Department at 757-382-6176 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An initial draft of proposed amendments is available for review. Future iterations of the proposed amendments will be made available here as well. Questions raised by citizens and responses from City staff are presented below for your information.
- Will there be grandfathering? Especially on setbacks? Fencing? Barns? Animal Enclosures?
Nonconforming uses that
were lawfully commencesmay continue, and nonconforming buildings and structures that were lawfully constructed may remain, provided the regulations in Article 15 of the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance are followed.
- What does "permitted accessory use" mean?
A "permitted accessory use" is an accessory use (defined in Section 3-403 of the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance) that is permitted by right.
does4 horses equal 1 cow? Where is the supporting documentation for any and all animal unit requirements? Why has swine been removed from the animal units altogether?
The proposed animal unit for horses was designed to maintain the current allowance of one horse for every 10,000 square feet (equivalent to approximately 4 horses per acre or 12 horses per 3-acre lot). Swine have not been removed. Swine are permitted in A-1 Districts only (subject to the regulations in Chapter 10 of the City Code), which is current law. As for the other proposed animal units, staff reviewed other Virginia localities and used them as a model when drafting these requirements. Staff also sought the advice of the City's Agricultural Extension Agent, Mr. Watson Lawrence. Staff is still researching this issue and seeking opinions from other associations and groups with expertise in this area. We welcome any comments or suggestions on this issue.
- How did you determine
the amount ofanimal units per acreage? Where is the supporteddocumentation for this?
The animal units per acre were determined using ordinances in other Virginia localities, in particular, Fairfax County. The animal units were reviewed by the City's Extension Agent, Mr. Watson Lawrence, who did not voice objections other than to note the discrepancy with horses. Staff also considered current regulations and sought to maintain consistency and ensure that the proposed amendments do not reduce the number of animals allowed under current law. Staff also discovered a clerical (decimal) error with the chicken and rabbit animal unit denominations, which will be corrected in the next version of the amendment.
- If animal units
isused because it shows best farming practice - - -taking into consideration waste management, grazing land, and weight of the animal....why does this only pertain to small farms under 10 acres? And not larger farms?
The animal units are not intended to regulate best management practices. They represent reasonable land use standards relating to mitigation of adverse impact on adjacent properties. City staff welcomes any suggestions for improving the proposed animal unit standards.
- Define "development standards"?
The next version of the amendment will clarify that the term "development standards" as used in Section 10-502 means regulations such as minimum lot area and setbacks set out in Section 6-300 - 6-302 and those use restrictions set out in Section 6-2000 - 6-2003 of the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance.
- Why are we combining A-1 and Residential Estates together? If a land is purchased A-1, how can the city say or change the land to residential estates? Why is the City trying to make more restrictions on A-1?
The amendment does not combine A-1 and RE-1 Districts; nor does it change the zoning of any property; nor does it impose greater livestock restrictions on A-1 properties 10 acres or more in size. Under current provisions of the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance, A-1 properties are restricted to 1 horse, pony, cow, sheep, goat and other livestock, with the exception of hogs, per 5,000 square feet of lot area (see Section 10-503.C.1). Under the amendment, A-1 properties consisting of 10 acres or more are relieved of the 1 per 5,000 square foot restriction. A-1 lots consisting of less than 10 acres will be permitted to keep livestock in accordance with the animal unit tables, rather than be subject to current standards for properties used primarily for residential use at 1 animal per 10,000 square feet. Notably, the City did amend the language in Section 10-502 to clarify that A-1 properties that are improved with a residence shall no longer be subject to the RE-1 table of permitted and conditional uses.
- Why is the City reducing the amount of our taxed land to reduce
the amount ofanimal units per acreage? What is the legal precedent for this?
The City is not reducing the amount of land that can be devoted to livestock. The current Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance does not permit livestock in residential districts other than the RE-1 District. Property located in other single-family residential districts may be used for purposes set out in the residential Table of Permitted and Conditional Uses.
- These proposed amendments
ofthe zoning ordinance do not matter---if the process is run by complaints and not by abiding by the ordinance/law!! How will this process be integrated into consistent policies/laws/regulations and enforcement?
Two of the primary purposes of the amendment are i) to expand the rights of residentially improved A-1 properties to keep livestock, and ii) to provide for the consistent regulation of livestock based on land use impact. Enforcement is by
complaint; however, this does not give anyone license to violate the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance.