PHED Committee Discusses Farm Animals in Residential Areas

The Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee is continuing its extensive review of the first proposed major changes in the County Zoning Ordinance since 1978. At Friday’s worksession, among the items to be discussed are the distance setbacks from a property line if an owner wants to have chicken roosts in their yard.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, has been meeting regularly since June to review the changes in the zoning ordinance that have been suggested by the County’s Planning Board. The committee will use the worksessions to make recommendations to the full Council, which will eventually decide what changes will be implemented.

The PHED Committee will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The worksession will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site

 As the committee moves to complete its worksessions on the proposed zoning changes, on Friday it will discuss whether it wants to revise its previous recommendation on setbacks for chicken roosts. The committee had suggested that the distance from a property line for a chicken roost be shorten from the current limits of 25 feet from a lot line and 100 feet from any neighboring house to 15 feet from a lot line. However, in a Sept. 17 letter to the Council, County Health Officer Ulder Tillman raised concerned about the proposed revision.

After reviewing additional medical literature and consulting with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Dr. Tillman said she has “reservations about the proposed modifications that would allow hens, poultry, and other farm animals to be raised in residential settings with a shorter setback distance from the property line.”

The committee also will again address whether properties developed in areas designated as Parking Lot Districts should be required to have minimum parking requirements for their properties.

Based on conversations with the County’s Department of Transportation and Parking Lot District staff, Planning Board staff revised its position and is recommending elimination of minimum parking requirements in Parking Lot Districts.

Removing the minimum parking requirements in parking lot districts removes an option currently available to developers to build parking on their property or pay the assigned tax for having public parking available.




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