Category Archives: Backyard Chickens

Give Me Chickens, or Give Me Death!

baby-chickenBy Patrick Jett – Mechanicsville District

Did you know it is illegal to own chickens in residential areas of Hanover County?  This simple property use is a protected freedom in the communities all around us.  Henrico County, Chesterfield County, the Town of Ashland and even the City of Richmond allow their property owners the simple freedom to raise hens and enjoy their benefits.

While the title of this article exaggerates the issue, I never imagined, as a lifelong resident of Hanover County, that our personal freedom to own Backyard Chickens would be denied by the same government which promotes rural celebrations such as the Tomato Festival, the Strawberry Festival and Beaverdam Heritage Days.  Hanover County is proud of its most famous son, Patrick Henry.  His historic stature delivers tourism revenue to the county coffers each year with historical tours of Scotchtown and its courthouse.  However, do the government officials, elected and unelected, embrace the true meaning of their founding father’s most famous speech?

I repeat my question from above – Did you know that keeping a few egg-laying hens is illegal in Hanover?  I understand some neighborhoods would choose to not allow keeping chickens.  These Planned Urban Development subdivisions with their homeowners associations and bylaws can restrict backyard chickens.

Why is it that Hanover County through its Municipal Code feels the need to impose this restriction of property rights on all of its tax paying residential landowners?  This is a simple example of government overreach.

The Hanover zoning ordinance permits “keeping of small animals, insects, reptiles, fish or birds, but only for personal enjoyment or household use, and not as a business”, yet keeping even a single egg-laying hen is forbidden.  We’re not talking about running a commercial poultry operation out of a backyard.  We are talking about keeping a few hens for enjoyment, education and an option for a safe source of non-GMO food.  Why, as a tax paying landowner with approving neighbors, would I be legally forbidden from keeping a few hens?

This issue has been brought before the Board of Supervisors numerous times over the last few years.  We continue to see huge areas of a once-agricultural county converted into high-density residential subdivisions.  How can a county that repeatedly claims to support the preservation our rural quality of life continue to asphalt the county and not even yield a compromise at enjoying a bit of rural living?

Demanding either chickens or death is a purposeful exaggeration.  These days, however, I find myself wondering if the people of Hanover County aren’t anxious to relish in our historic cries for Liberty and demand a few Backyard Chickens. (And for clarity, I am not including roosters in this request. They can be noisy!)

Please contact your supervisor to let them know you support Backyard Chickens as a property owner freedom.

South Anna District – Mr. Wayne Hazzard –

Beaverdam District – Mr. Aubrey Stanley –

Henry District – Mr. Sean Davis –

Chickahominy District – Ms. Angela Kelly-Wiecek –

Ashland District – Mr. Ed Via –

Mechanicsville District – Mr. Canova Peterson IV –

Cold Harbor District – Mr. Elton Wade, Sr. –

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Article written by: Tom White