|The Kim family's pet chickens.|
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 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.