Harrisonburg Residents Urge City Council to Allow Backyard Chickens

Several Harrisonburg residents are hoping to get permission to raise chickens in their backyard to produce eggs.

Currently, keeping chickens is a violation of zoning in the city because the birds are considered livestock.

However, on Tuesday night, a group known as the Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project presented a plan to city council that would allow up to six chickens per lot.

Roosters would be banned and the guidelines would also take measures to reduce health concerns for neighbors. One supporter even dressed in a chicken suit to show support.

The group believes raising chickens connects people more closely to food sources and allows them more food security.

Group member Nicholas Stoddard says, "There's a lot of concerns about large-scale production that people have fears about, and they want to have some control over where their food is coming from and what's going in to it and know that it is healthy and that it is accessible."

After the presentation, the city council discussed whether the matter was an issue of land-use, zoning or animal control procedures.

The issue was referred to the planning commission for review during its May 13 meeting. Public hearings will likely follow.