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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Zoning board will decide whether Annandale resident can keep his chickens

The Kim family's pet chickens.
When a friend of Annandale resident Young Gee Kim gave him five chickens last spring, which he keeps in a coop at the side of his house, he didn’t know he was violating Fairfax County zoning regulations.

Under the zoning ordinance, a homeowner must have a two-acre property in order to keep chickens by right. Anyone with a smaller property needs to seek a special permit, and Kim’s property is just seven-tenths of an acre.
The six-foot fence around Kim's house. 
The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals is holding a public hearing Sept. 26, 9 a.m., to determine whether Young can keep his chickens.

The hearing will also address the fence around Kim’s property, which is about two feet higher than the four-foot maximum allowed.

Kim’s house, at 3801 Annandale Road, is at the narrow strip of land where Annandale Road meets Gallows Road. His backyard is across the street from Westminster School on Gallows Road.

He says none of his neighbors had complained to him about the chickens. But when someone from the Department of Code Compliance responded to a report about the fence, the inspector discovered the chickens.

“We thought the land was big enough. We should have researched it more,” Kim says.

“We keep the chickens for eggs and for the enjoyment of our parents. They feed them and treat them like pets,” he says. “Our nieces come over every weekend and play with the chickens.”

All together, the five chickens produce about two or three eggs a day, which he sometimes gives to his neighbors. Eggs from home-grown chickens have more protein and taste better than commercially raised chickens.

A staff report from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) recommends approval of both the chickens and the fence.

When deciding whether to approve Kim’s request for a special permit to allow chickens, the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the fact that the house is relatively isolated and there are no houses adjacent to the side of the house where the chickens are kept, says Kevin McMahan of the DPZ.

The sliver of land between Kim’s house and the point where Gallows Road and Annandale Road meet, however, has been recently been purchased, and the new owner plans to build a house there with a driveway on Gallows Road, McMahan says.

Even so, Kim’s chicken coop would still be far enough away from the new house, he notes. The county wants chicken coops to be at least 50 feet from an adjacent property.

In considering the fence, McMahon says the BZA will look at whether it serves a purpose, whether it is out of character for the neighborhood, and whether it impedes the line of sight for people trying to back out of a driveway.

Given the heavy traffic flow on Gallows and Annandale and the way the driveway is positioned, he expects the staff to recommend allowing Kim’s six-foot feet, although the BZA doesn’t have to go along with the staff recommendation.

“Fairfax County doesn’t take fences lightly,” McMahan says. In some case, the BZA has required property owners to remove a fence or cut it down to four feet. In other cases where the BZA has approved a higher fence, it required the homeowner to plant trees or bushes along the fence line to make it more visually appealing.


  1. The BZA is a complete joke; once they accept an application, it is pretty much a done and approved deal. Want to build a home mere inches from your property line? Just ask! Want a chicken coop? Just ask! There is no reason to have such exhaustive zoning laws if all one has to do to work around them is to submit an application and be subject to a 5-10 minute hearing.

    1. And those chickens are probably all related. BZA's main mission is to turn Mason District into a third world country. Its a decoy to keep out all new development and tax paying professionals.

    2. Just asking for it does not work for BZA. You need to submit substantial justifications and its supporting documents to back up your request.

      Also have you ever been to BZA meetings? Some cases takes almost 2 hours.

  2. The fence is an eyesore. I drive by it every day and it isn’t in character of the neighborhood. What is the point of having zoning regulations if the county isn’t ever going to uphold them!?!

    1. If you voted for Penny Gross you can thank her and the County's attorneys (who live in McClean). They have limited the powers of code compliance to nothing more than the Keystone Cops. The laws and our elected officials live in the 70's......they all need to go.

  3. I agree completely regarding the zoning regs being a complete joke. the code compliance office is a made up of a bunch of people who refuse to enforce the codes

  4. With regards to the six foot high fence: Let's all take a look at the official Fairfax County Fence Permit process and see what are the requirements for such fence??
    OH, wait there is NO permitting of fences required in Fairfax County!! ALL other local jurisdictions have a permit requirement for fences.
    IF FC had such a permit requirement this fence would NOT be part of the issues here!
    Come-on Fairfax get a permit requirement !!


    SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN pursuant to Sect. 18-110 of the Zoning Ordinance that, at a meeting to be held in
    the Board Room, Government Center Building, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia, on
    September 26, 2018, the Board of Zoning Appeals will hold public hearings on the following applications at the
    time indicated. For each public hearing, any and all interested persons will be given an opportunity to express
    their views regarding said application. If you desire to be placed on the speakers’ list, or check on whether the
    status of a public hearing has changed, call the Special Permit and Variance Branch of the Zoning Evaluation
    Division, Department of Planning and Zoning, at (703) 324-1280. Below are descriptive summaries only of each
    application. Interested parties may review the application or pick up a copy of the staff report one week prior to
    the hearing at the Branch noted above at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia, Suite 801, or go
    online and download a copy at, by clicking on the
    application number. ADA: Reasonable accommodation is available upon 48-hour advance notice. For additional
    information on ADA call (703) 324-1334 (TTY 711 Virginia Relay Center).

    Public Hearings
    SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 9:00 A.M.
    K. McMahan
    YOUNG GEE KIM, SP 2018-MA-054 Appl. Under Sects. 8-917 and 8-923 of the Zoning
    Ordinance to permit a modification to the limitation on the keeping of animals (chickens)
    and a fence greater than 4.0 ft. in height to remain in a front yard of a through lot. Located
    at 3801 Annandale Rd., Annandale, 22003 on approx. 33,123 sq. ft. of land zoned R-1, R3
    and R-4. Mason District. Tax Map 60-3 ((6)) 22E and 60-3 ((28)) A.

  6. Fences and Walls

    The county's Zoning Ordinance regulates the location of fences and walls on a lot based on the height of the fence or wall. On most residential lots, the Zoning Ordinance only allows a fence or wall of 4 feet or less in the front yard. Remember that on corner lots, the two yards which lie between the principle building and the intersecting streets are both deemed to be front yards. In a side or rear yard, a fence or wall of not more than 7 feet is generally allowed. There are some limited exceptions to these rules for particular types of lots that abut or are in close proximity to major thoroughfares. For specific information regarding your property and designation of the yards on your lot, please contact the Zoning Permit Review Branch of the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-222-1082, TTY 711. In many instances, a Building Permit is not required for a fence. For information regarding building permit requirements, please contact the Permit Application Center of Land Development Services at 703-222-0801, TTY 711.

  7. If it does if it doesn’t work out for Young, I’ve got a pretty big smoker and can help with the problem.

  8. Didn't realize the coop was in the front yard. That is disqualifying to me. I could see it if it was in the backyard. This is absurd.

  9. It's in the side yard. It's not visible from the street.

  10. I vote for the chickens

  11. Enforcement of any kind is lacking in Mason District. Multiple occupancy complaints are ignored and the BOS approved STL's. Hundreds of County "residents" have Maryland license plates. Cars are left on public streets for months. The Spectrum development on route 7 has a host of violations. The chicken issue is peanuts, or is that eggs?.

  12. Imagine living next to this little chicken farm. Ugh.

  13. I would prefer to live next to chickens than the chain smoker downstairs... 5 chickens are not going to destroy neighborhoods and cause chaos people, their chickens for God's sake. But really, it's all Penny Gross's fault!

  14. I drive by this property regularly and have seen the chickens on the side of the road wondering up and down it. So apparently they are not "kept" in the coop all the time or they are escaping. This is a busy street. Next thing you know we are going to have these chickens causing accidents as people try to avoid hitting them.

    1. I also drive by that property regularly and have never seen them. Remember, they were discovered when the fence was being inspected. This is much ado about nothing and just another excuse for the haters to hate. I'd like to see chickens in everyone's backyard. Other cities have urban agriculture as a goal. Imagine being able to walk to a neighbor to pick up fresh eggs. Fairfax County advertises its efforts supporting urban agriculture. I'd much rather have that than toxic lawns everywhere. Simple answer, we all see what we want to see.

    2. Some see chickens in the streets, others see toxic lawns:

  15. Simple answer, if you want a farm move to west Virginia.