Planner can keep chickens

Published 10:51 am Saturday, October 16, 2010


COURTLAND—The Southampton County Planning Commission recommended that its chairman — Dr. Alan W. Edwards — be able to keep his chickens, with stipulations.

Edwards and his wife, Erin, who began raising the chickens in May 2009 for their children, cannot have more than 25 hens and two roosters. And the eggs cannot be sold.

“My client will adhere to any specific conditions of the permit,” said John T. Randall, who represented the Edwards family at a Thursday night public hearing on the matter.

Edwards, who chairs the board that reviews zoning issues in the county, was asked to appear before his colleagues after he was informed that having chickens in his Courtland neighborhood was a violation. Last week, he told The Tidewater News he was unaware that he had violated zoning rules.

The Edwardses live in Darden Mill Estates, which is a subdivision that — according to the county’s zoning ordinance — does not allow farm animals.

However, exceptions are made with permission from the planning commission through what’s known as a conditional-use permit. The ordinance requires that a chicken coop be 100 feet from neighboring property lines.

The Edwardses’ property consists of two, two-acre lots. The existing coop is located in the back yard and meets minimum requirements.

“We love the chickens,” said neighbor Yvonne Kastelnick. “We like hearing them in the morning. They eat bugs; our cats play with them. I really have nothing negative to say about them.”

The planning commission unanimously recommended granting the Edwardses permission to keep the chickens. Edwards abstained from voting.

The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision in November.