Guest post from dear friend Cheenius, who got political last night to fight for the right to keep chickens in her backyard. Go Cheenius!
Cheenius likes to stay active politically from time to time, and this evening she made it to Albemarle County’s Planning Commission meeting. Why? Because the topic was urban agriculture, and like all HP readers, she knows that favorable zoning is crucial to the local food and sustainability movements. Andy Sorrell, Senior Planner for Albemarle County, gave a thorough report to the 10 commissioners on pros and cons and how other cities and counties are handling this issue. Then the commissioners gave some initial thoughts before opening it up to the public. Cheenius, as a gardener, beekeeper, AND chicken-keeper, felt compelled to get up in front of the microphone and shout out: “MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR!” Well, actually, not quite. She thanked the planners and the commissioners for moving urban agriculture forward, and said that they seemed fully capable of hashing out the details, but that they should keep in mind that if they want to impose maximum hen numbers, chickens are flock animals so they should really keep the number at 4 or more. Also, since the county is strained for staffing, requiring permits seems like a waste of time, when you can just have reasonable regulations that can be enforced as needed. After the standing ovation (I can’t rule out that that was only in Cheenius’ head), she sat down and realized that if there isn’t a clear zoning mandate now, then possibly she’s currently in violation on all three counts of gardening, beekeeping and chicken-keeping. She considered running for the door, but decided that would draw even more attention to her lawlessness. Instead, she’s confident the commissioners will ultimately do the right thing when it comes to letting county residents grow their own food. Initial language they’re looking at adding to the County’s Comprehensive Plan: