Chick­ens, goats are now al­lowed in La Plata yards

Res­i­dents can get per­mit to own up to 6 hens; goats al­lowed for short time

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­

Move over, man’s best friend — La Plata res­i­dents are now of­fi­cially able to own chick­ens as pets.

On Aug. 23, the La Plata Town Coun­cil ap­proved an ordinance con­cern­ing pro­hib­ited an­i­mals, which now al­lows a cer­tain num­ber of fe­male chick­ens with an ap­proved per­mit and even al­lows goats for a lim­ited du­ra­tion un­der cer­tain con­di­tions. The ordinance was ap­proved unan­i­mously by the town coun­cil.

“Al­low­ing chick­ens in La Plata, a lim­ited num­ber, is some­thing that ini­tially ben­e­fits a few res­i­dents,” said Mayor Roy G. Hale. “There re­ally was no valid

rea­son to deny the re­quest. We are a small town and this is some­thing that small towns per­mit.”

Town Man­ager Daniel Mears said the town has pro­vi­sions pro­hibit­ing cer­tain types of an­i­mals, since La Plata is a res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity.

“Chick­ens will be al­lowed with a per­mit, with a limit of six hens, no roost­ers, and re­quire­ments for the coop, its san­i­ta­tion and dis­tance from other res­i­dences,” Mears said. “The al­lowance for back­yard chick­ens does not open the door for other farm an­i­mals. The pro­hib­ited an­i­mals sec­tion of the code ad­dresses that.”

Although there are strict reg­u­la­tions ap­proved for hous­ing cer­tain an­i­mals in the town, this is a win for lo­cal res­i­dents who wish to house those par­tic­u­lar types of an­i­mals.

La Plata res­i­dent Chelsea Wil­liams was ex­tremely happy to see the coun­cil ap­prove hav­ing chick­ens in the town. On June 6, Wil­liams ini­tially emailed a let­ter to the coun­cil re­quest­ing that the town code be changed in or­der to al­low La Plata res­i­dents to house chick­ens in their back­yard. At the town coun­cil meet­ing on June 21, Wil­liams pre­sented facts about the ben­e­fits of own­ing chick­ens and ex­plained how other towns across the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., metropoli­tan area have reg­u­lated chicken rais­ing in their own re­gions with cer­tain re­stric­tions.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing the ordinance to pass so quickly,” Wil­liams said. “The coun­cil was so re­cep­tive, they re­ally lis­tened and took what I said un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. One of the other coun­cil mem­bers brought up goats and I guess it was a two-forone deal.”

Ac­cord­ing to ordinance 16-09, res­i­dents can only have goats for the pur­pose of re­mov­ing in­va­sive plant species and other un­de­sir­able plants for a lim­ited pe­riod of time, not to ex­ceed five days. Fe­male chick­ens are al­lowed, by is­sue of per­mit, with no more than six fe­male chick­ens per res­i­den­tial prop­erty.

The ordinance also stresses that coops and cages be kept in sanitary con­di­tion to pre­vent nui­sance, such as odor or un­sightly mat­ter. Coops or cages can­not be lo­cated in a front yard or side yard and must be lo­cated at least 10 feet from the prop­erty and at least 50 feet from any res­i­den­tial struc­ture on each ad­ja­cent prop­erty at the time it is con­structed.

Chick­ens will not be per­mit­ted on multi-fam­ily dwelling prop­erty or prop­er­ties hav­ing a res­i­dence that shares a com­mon wall with an­other res­i­dence, and they can not be slaugh­tered on a res­i­den­tial prop­erty.

La Plata res­i­dent Kathy Cox said she is ex­cited about be­ing able to own chick­ens, and the goats are a bonus.

“I was so im­pressed with my neigh­bor Chelsea who brought this be­fore the coun­cil,” Cox said. “Chelsea came up with it and got the egg rolling.”

Wil­liams and Cox be­lieve own­ing chick­ens is ben­e­fi­cial be­cause chick­ens make very pleas­ant pets, they eat ticks and other prob­lem in­sects in the yard, they sup­ply fresh eggs daily that are packed with nu­tri­tional value and an­i­mals add to the small town at­mos­phere of La Plata. Both res­i­dents were also pleas­antly sur­prised the town has al­lowed res­i­dents to own up to six hens.

“I know that there are res­i­dents who think it’s going to be smelly and messy, so I hope those of us that try it out for a hobby will be real con­sci­en­tious and re­spect­ful of our neigh­bors and make sure it doesn’t be­come a nui­sance,” Cox said.

Wil­liams said what the coun­cil passed is stan­dard in com­par­i­son to other towns, and she un­der­stands the most con­ser­va­tive way to ap­prove the ordinance is to add some re­stric­tions that reg­u­late how chicken rais­ing is done in the town.

“This is some­thing new and the coun­cil wanted to make sure that this was some­thing that would work for all res­i­dents,” Wil­liams said. “We can al­ways take the re­stric­tions off later, as things change.”

Wil­liams plans to have her own chick­ens by next spring.


Rowan Wil­liams, 2, a La Plata res­i­dent, pets a chicken owned by his grand­mother, Colleen Had­daway, in her back­yard in Port To­bacco.


La Plata res­i­dent Chelsea Wil­liams’ sons, Rowan Wil­liams and Al­bie Wil­liams, 2, with their grand­mother Colleen Had­daway, a Port To­bacco res­i­dent, pet one of Had­daway’s chick­ens.

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