Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Prince George OKs backyard livestock
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Jan 24, 2014, 10:41

PRINCE GEORGE — After several months of drafting and redrafting legislation, the Prince George Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to allow residential property owners to keep horses, ponies, chicken and other poultry, bees and small livestock including goats.

The ordinance dates back to July 2013 when the Board of Supervisors had instructed the Planning Commission to design zoning ordinance provisions that would allow for small livestock in residential districts, however it hit many roadblocks while determining the exact and appropriate language for the legislation.

Small livestock is now defined as “any domesticated farm animal weighing 100 pounds or less” and poultry is defined as “domesticated fowl normally raised on a farm such as chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, doves, guinea hens, peacocks, pigeons and other similar domesticated poultry or fowl,” according to the ordinance.

Effective immediately, the ordinance allows for residential property owners to keep a maximum of six chickens, two goats, one horse and two beehives on a two-acre parcel of land, according to Douglas Miles, the planning manager and zoning administrator for Prince George.

For every additional  acre of property, an additional one horse, mule, donkey, two small livestock or one extra pony can be kept and maintained, as stated in the ordinance. For every two additional acres of property, six additional poultry and two extra beehives will be permitted.

In addition to being able to keep these animals, the ordinance allows for the slaughtering of small livestock and poultry for personal use, such that the slaughtering is defined as “the killing of animals ... for food or for personal use or consumption only meeting [the United States Department of Agriculture] requirements,” as written in the ordinance.

Board chairman Bill Robertson said that although the ordinance is passed, this does not guarantee that any resident with a two-acre property can own livestock, and that subdivisions may still enact restrictive covenants that can override county policy.

The ordinance requires that animal waste must not be combined with household trash, instead it must either be composted or disposed of in separate containers.

The ordinance specifies a number of requirements for the areas in which one can keep poultry or small livestock.

For poultry and small livestock, the grazing area must be entirely fenced in, with the fence being 150 feet from the front property line and also 150 feet from the nearest adjacent dwelling.

Poultry and bees cannot be sold for retail purposes, however their by-products including eggs, honey and beeswax can be sold at nearby farmer’s markets.

Miles said that there will be penalties for property owners who improperly restrict animals or fail to comply with the provisions of the ordinance.  

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