Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Prince George board to vote on residential livestock
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Dec 18, 2013, 12:44

PRINCE GEORGE — Residents hoping to use their own chickens to make egg nog this Christmas will have to wait.

The decision to allow for the keeping of livestock on residential properties in Prince George County has been delayed further after the Board of Supervisors voted to alter the language of a proposed ordinance to include goats among a list of animals including chickens and bees that would be allowed, as well as to remove the language banning the slaughter of chickens.

Back in July, the Board of Supervisors instructed the Planning Commission to design zoning ordinance provisions in regard to the keeping of  ponies, goats, chickens and bees within residential districts.

People in residential areas had previously requested that they be allowed to raise bees, goats, chickens and other livestock both for “health benefits and economic reasons,” according to the ordinance.

However, when the proposed ordinance was brought back before the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 10, the language had been amended by the Planning Commission to exclude goats from the permissible livestock to be kept on larger residential properties.

Douglas Miles, planning manager and zoning administrator for Prince George, said that the Planning Commission excluded goats from the language in an attempt to minimize the potential for a wide variety of livestock on a two-acre residential property, the minimum acreage required by the ordinance to raise livestock.

“The concern is you [might] have one horse, two goats, six chickens and two beehives all on approximately two acres or more. ... Most cases, people aren’t going to do that, but we do have to look at worst case scenarios,” Miles said.

These numbers are the maximum numbers of each animal that would be allowed on a two-acre property, and would double with the addition of two more acres.

Prince George resident Andy Paul, who brought the matter to the attention of the board several months ago, said that it would be “downright ridiculous” to be able to have a horse on a two-acre property, but not a small goat, which he would use for its milk.

When the board asked Paul how many goats would sustain a drinkable supply of milk for his family, he said that two would be a good number because they tend to work better in pairs.

“If we have two female [goats], we can get a pint per day when they’re lactating. ... They only lactate once they have their kids, and at that point, we would milk them until we stored up enough milk or used enough milk, and then we would be either harvesting or selling,” Paul said.

Board member Henry Parker also voiced concerns with excluding goats from the ordinance, citing goats’ ability to clean up properties in addition to the distance some individuals have to travel to get goat milk.

“[Some people] have to go to Richmond or the Tidewater area to obtain goat milk. I’m not sure that’s a fair way to address this ordinance if we’re going to allow for other animals,” Parker said, emphasizing that he is favorable to the ordinance, but that it should include goats as well.

In addition to the inclusion of goats into the ordinance, the board members also opted to allow for residents to be able to slaughter their chickens.

Board member Alan Carmichael said that to restrict the slaughtering of chickens would be “opening up a can of worms” since people can already slaughter turkey and deer at their homes.

Paul, who wants to raise chickens for eggs and meat, also spoke out in favor of slaughtering chickens.

“We want to be able to butcher them.  I see that as no different than my neighbor across the  street bringing a deer home and field dressing it in the backyard,” Paul said.

A newly proposed ordinance, that includes the keeping of two goats, one horse, six chickens and two beehives for every two residential acres as well as allowing for the slaughtering of chickens, will be brought before the board on Jan. 14.

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