Chickens, goats are now allowed in La Plata yards
Residents can get permit to own up to 6 hens; goats allowed for short time
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.