Zoning & Acceptable Use

The big issue that many people will stumble on when it comes to raising chickens and other poultry, are the zoning and acceptable use ordinances.  Especially if you live in suburbia.

As it stands, I live in Montgomery County MD.  I am considered to be in the R-200 zone.  And I live in a residential detached home, which I might add, we own.  I went to my county website and searched through the Acceptable Use Ordinances for the word Rooster, because that was my main concern.  I found the following Ordinance:

Section 3.2.9. Urban Farming

A.   Defined
Urban Farming means the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants, as well as the limited keeping and raising of fowl or bees and the practice of aquaculture.
B.   Use Standards
Where Urban Farming is allowed as a limited use, it must satisfy the following standards:
1.   The minimum area for an urban farm is 2,500 square feet. This standard does not apply to the keeping of bees.
2.   One fowl may be kept for every 1,000 square feet of lot or parcel area; roosters are prohibited.
3.   Aquaculture is permitted in tanks or pools.
4.   The maximum gross floor area of all structures, including aquaculture tanks or pools but excluding greenhouses, is 10% of the lot or parcel on any urban farm.
5.   The minimum setback for accessory structures from any lot line is 15 feet.
6.   The maximum height for any accessory structure, including any pitched roof, is 14 feet.
7.   Only manual or walk-behind mechanical equipment and practices commonly used in residential gardening may be used.

My heart hit the floor when I read that Roosters were prohibited.  I had done my research before I even ordered my chickens!  Something must be wrong here I thought.  So I looked up the Acceptable Use Table hidden in the ordinance and found that as a R-200 zone, I actually fall under the Farming Use and not Urban Farming!  The Farming Ordinance states:

Section 3.2.6. Farming

Farming means the practice of agriculture on a property, and any associated buildings. Agriculture means the business, science, and art of cultivating and managing the soil; composting, growing, harvesting, and selling crops, and the products of forestry, horticulture, and hydroponics; breeding, raising, managing, or selling livestock, including horses, poultry, fish, game, and fur-bearing animals; dairying, beekeeping, and similar activities; and equestrian events and activities. Agriculture includes processing on the farm of an agricultural product to prepare the product for market and may cause a change in the natural form or state of the product. Farming includes the following accessory uses:
A.   Accessory agricultural processing and storage of products grown or raised on-site or on property owned, rented, or controlled by the farmer. Accessory agricultural processing includes a milk plant, grain elevator, on-farm animal slaughtering, and mulch or compost production and manufacturing.
B.   The sale of products of agriculture and agricultural processing, if products are produced on-site or on property owned, rented, or controlled by the farmer.
C.   The sale of horticultural products grown off-site, but kept on the farm temporarily on a maximum of 2 acres or 20% of the site, whichever is less.
D.   The delivery and installation of horticultural products grown on the farm.
E.   The production and manufacturing of mulch or compost where up to 20% of the materials used in accessory processing can come from off-site sources.
F.   Accessory agricultural education and tourism activities conducted as a part of a farm's regular operations, with emphasis on hands-on experiences and events that foster increased knowledge of agriculture, including cultivation methods, animal care, water conservation, Maryland's farming history, the importance of eating healthy, and locally grown foods. Allowed activities include corn mazes, hay rides, and educational tours, classes, and workshops. The maximum footprint for any structure and the total footprint of all structures primarily used for education or tourism is limited to 10% of the total footprint square footage of all structures on the site used for agriculture. The property must have DPS approved sanitation facilities for this accessory use.

So nothing there tells me that I can't have a rooster!  YAY!!!  At the same time, nothing there tells me where on my property I cannot place a coop and/or run and I know there is something about that somewhere... so I decided it was time to look up the Animal Control Ordinances.  This was a much smaller document, requiring a lot less reading.

From what I can tell, and I am no lawyer...per the previously posted ordinances/zoning, I need to make sure that my run is at least 100 feet from my neighbor's house, and I need to do my best to keep the roos a bit quieter.  Getting rid of a few will help LOL


(note Aviary is defined as : A place for keeping birds confined.)

Sec. 5-203. Public nuisance and other violations.

   (a)    Violation.  An owner must not:
      (1)   Allow an animal other than an altered cat to be at large.  An animal that is participating in a qualified activity is not at large unless the animal leaves the activity.
      (2)   Allow an animal to damage or defecate on property outside the owner's property.  An animal may defecate on public property or the common area of property in which the owner shares an interest if the owner immediately removes and disposes of the feces by a sanitary method approved by the Division.  This paragraph does not affect any right of a common ownership community to regulate or ban animals from the community's property.
      (3)   Allow an animal to enter private property without the property owner's permission.  The property owner may capture the trespassing animal humanely and promptly notify animal control or other appropriate law enforcement authorities, or humanely transport the animal to an animal shelter.
      (4)   Allow a female dog or cat in heat to be outside a building or other secure enclosure that prevents attraction of other animals.
      (5)   Allow an animal to cause an unsanitary, dangerous, or offensive condition because of the size or number of animals in a single location or because a facility is not appropriate for the animal or properly maintained.
      (6)   Allow an animal to cause noise that is loud and persistent enough to disturb another person's quiet enjoyment.
      (7)   Allow a dog to be on public school grounds on a day when school is in session, or in a public recreation area during an organized activity, unless the dog is controlled by a leash or similar restraining device.  This paragraph does not apply to a dog participating in a qualified activity if the agency controlling the school or area gave permission to the owner of the dog or the sponsor of the qualified activity.
      (8)   Allow a domestic or exotic bird, including a homing pigeon, to be in an aviary within 100 feet of any structure owned or leased by another person and used for human habitation or work.  This paragraph does not apply to a bird:
         (A)   other than a homing pigeon, inside the owner's dwelling;
         (B)   in a pet shop;
         (C)   in an agricultural zone as defined in Chapter 59; or
         (D)   in a market for less than 24 hours for sale for human consumption.
      (9)   Refuse or fail to obtain a license for a dog, cat, or ferret as required by State law or this Chapter.
      (10)   Allow an animal to act in any other way that the Director, the Board, or an animal control officer finds would cause any other public nuisance established by regulation.  An action prohibited by the regulation is a violation even if the action does not qualify as a public nuisance because the owner has not received notice described in subsection (b)(1).
      (11)   sell, trade, or give a domesticated animal to another person at a place open to the public, except a business licensed to sell animals under Section 5-404.
   (b)   Public nuisance. An owner must not allow an animal to create a public nuisance by:
      (1)   behavior described in subsections (a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (6), (8), (9), or (10) occurring after the owner received notice from the County in any form (such as an oral warning from a Division employee) of a violation because of the same behavior; or
      (2)   any behavior described in subsections (a)(5) or (7).
   (c)   An owner must prevent the owner’s animal from having unwanted contact with a person or another domesticated animal at all times.  (1999 L.M.C., ch. 10 § 1; 2001 L.M.C., ch. 2, § 1; 2005 L.M.C., ch. 22, § 1.)
   Editor’s note—Section 5-203 is cited in Coroneos v. Montgomery County, 161 Md. App. 411, 869 A.2d 410 (2005).

I also found that any accessory building needs to be 14 or 15 (I will have to look this up again) away from property lines.  

So it looks like my main concerns according to ordinances are:

Not letting my roosters become a nuisance.
Setting my run or "aviary" far enough away from the neighbor's house.
Setting my coop at least 15 feet or so from my property line.

It is important to familiarize yourself with your local HOA, city/town, county, and state ordinances so that you don't violate them when housing your chickens.  Doing so will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

EDIT 8/6/15:  Development Standards for R-200 Zone shows setbacks for Accessory Buildings.  Note that it says it does not apply to a building accessory for agricultural use.  I am curious to know if my chicken coop is considered "agricultural use".

Rear yard only.

35 ft. maximum height, measured to the highest point of roof surface. 

65 ft. Front setback

40 ft. Side Street Setback, abutting lot fronts on the side street and is in a residential detached zone.

15 ft. Side Street Setback, abutting lot does not front on the side street or is not in a residential detached zone.

12 ft. Side Setback (all lots except corner lots)

12 ft. Rear on a Corner lot where abutting lot fronts on the side street and is in a residential detached zone

7 ft. Rear Setback, if not otherwise addressed

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