A new bill being debated by Anne Arundel legislators would
loosen local laws on chicken owners.
County Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District) said a growing movement of locally sourced food is part of what's driving his interest in addressing the bill.
Trumbauer investigated what other municipalities have done over the years, and hopes to give owners of smaller lots a little slack in raising chickens.
"In my opinion, our code is pretty out of date, and I wanted to incrementally address that," Trumbauer said.
Current county law restricts raising chickens to properties of more than 40,000 square-feet, prohibiting thousands of residential lots in the county north of Davidsonville.
The councilman said you might be surprised by the number of chicken raisers in the county. There are many in Pasadena, Severna Park, Broadneck and elsewhere, he said.
Trumbauer's bill (79-13) is co-sponsored by Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District). It allows property owners of quarter-acre lots to own up to four chickens, and half-acre properties up to eight chickens.
To safeguard the chickens interfering with neighbors, there are also setback requirements, and a ban on roosters to combat early morning crowing. Local bylaws from neighborhood and community associations would supersede the bill, in case of stricter requirements in certain areas, Trumbauer said.
The bill also establishes a licensing system, which requires a $30 fee of prospective chicken raisers.
Trumbauer said the license isn't a revenue generator, but a chance for the county to see just how many chicken owners there are in the county.
"It's also an opportunity to provide information and education for folks interested in keeping chickens," the councilman said. "I foresee people coming in to get their license, and they'll get a pamphlet with hints on raising chickens. It is a responsibility and there's an obligation there."
The City of Annapolis spent months digging through legislation before it was approved earlier this year. Trumbauer said he's not sure what kind of opposition his bill will receive, but believes it's time for an open debate on the issue.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Oct. 21 at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.