Windsor Planning to again talk about chickens

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tonight at 7 o’clock, the Windsor Planning Commission is scheduled to again discuss a proposed zoning ordinance amendment about poultry and pot-bellied pigs being raised in residential districts.

Last month, Walter Bernacki of Johnson Street acknowledged to having a few chickens on his property, but based on an anonymous complaint, he was found to be in violation of existing town code. So Bernacki brought the request, which led to lengthy discussion.

For example, at the time N. Macon Edwards III asked how would the cleanliness aspect be enforced and what’s the criteria for it. George Stubbs said, “If you go in one area, then someone’s going to come along and ask for rabbits. You can continue, etc. This has been round and round several times. Goats, rabbits, ferrets. We’re opening a door here that could go a long way to what someone consider a pet.”

Dennis Carney, the Planning administrator for the Town, said that Animal Control wouldn’t handle the matter, but that it would be for the Windsor police to enforce, if feasible.

So, the commissioners forwarded the matter to Town Council for input. Earlier this month, some members shared their thoughts, which would then be forwarded to the Planning at the suggestion of Mayor Carita Richardson.

Councilman Greg Willis has a view similar to Stubbs: “If we open doors to chickens and pot-bellied pigs, what’s to stop people asking for miniature horses, alpacas, peacocks, guineas, etc.” He added, though, that he doesn’t have an issue with chickens in low-density residential districts if there’s enough acreage to support them.

Councilman Tony Ambrose seemed to favor the idea: “I feel that we are a rural community and that if someone could maintain them, there’s something kind of special about that — getting your own eggs,” he said.

Since that meeting, Bernacki sent in a letter to the commissioners asking that the section in the proposal dealing with pot-bellied pigs be removed. Investigation by he and Sierra Bernacki “revealed the pot-bellied pig owners we were advised of live in the county not the town.”

Carney and staff have since researched what other Virginia localities have done in similar circumstances. Appomattox and Crewe don’t permit chickens being raised in residential areas. But Blackstone allows up to four hens and they must be kept 100 feet from residences and streams. Franklin and Smithfield allow them; and West Point requires they poultry be kept in pens.

The staff’s recommendation is that “the Planning Commission determine first whether given the circumstances the ordinance prohibiting the chickens and pot-bellied pigs needs to be reexamined. If so, then what should the criteria be. Should it be similar in nature to the request from Mr. Bernacki, or should it follow the model of other localities.”