(Anti?) Chicken Laws in Howard County

I have been chicken-dreaming lately and I finally decided I should look at the actual laws. People kept telling me you could not have chickens in Columbia and while I believed them, I wanted to do a bit of research for myself. So …<drumroll>…

No Chickens

For those of you in Howard County or Columbia, here is a breakdown of the laws I have found:

Howard County Code of Ordinances:

Sec. 17.306. – Care of animals
(c)Care of Domesticated Birds:
(1) Birds and poultry near private residences and public buildings. An owner of birds or poultry other than homing pigeons shall not allow the birds or poultry to fly, run, or stray within 50 feet of a private residence, other than the owner’s residence, or within 50 feet of a building used by the public.
(2)Food, water, shelter, cleanliness. The owner of the birds or poultry shall provide them with adequate food, water, shelter, and sanitary conditions.

Howard County Zoning Regulations

Section 109: (R-12 lots)
The R-12 District is established to provide single-family detached and semi-detached residential uses.
The district provides a choice of housing types typically on lots less than a half acre.

B. Uses Permitted as a Matter of Right
4. Farming, provided that on a lot of less than 40,000 square feet, no fowl other than for the normal use of the family residing on the lot and no livestock are permitted.*

* Let me break in here to mention that “normal use of the family” typically refers to 8 or fewer chickens – I will discuss this more at another time

Sec 128
4. Required Setback for Certain Farm Uses
In all districts where farming is a permitted use, the following shall not be allowed within 200 feet of an existing dwelling on a different lot:
a. An animal shelter including a building, shed, roofed structure or movable shelter that houses or provides protection for animals other than household pets

I live in the village of Long Reach, so I have researched the rules for my village. I have been led to believe, however, that the rules are the same or similar for the other villages of Columbia.

Long Reach Covenants

SECTION 8.03. No birds, animals or insects shall be kept or maintained on any Lot except for domestic* purposes. Under no circumstances shall any commercial or business enterprise involving the use of animals be conducted on the Property without the express written consent of the Architectural Committee. The Architectural Committee may, from time to time, publish and impose reasonable regulations setting forth the type and number of animals that may be kept on any Lot.

*breaking in for another note… I looked up the definition of domestic and this is what I have found:

1 a : living near or about human habitations b : tame, domesticated <the domestic cat>

2: of, relating to, or originating within a country and especially one’s own country <domestic politics> <domestic wines>

3: of or relating to the household or the family <domestic chores> <domestic happiness>

4: devoted to home duties and pleasures <leading a quietly domestic life>

5: indigenous

Finally, I was searching more for information on the laws and came across this statement in an article from the Baltimore Sun:
Howard’s regulations allow chickens to be kept on residential property in most neighborhoods outside Columbia, said Bob Lalush, a county planner. If the principal use of a property is as a dwelling, the maximum number of chickens allowed by law is eight, he said, and the animals must be kept 200 feet from any neighboring home.

I have looked and looked for laws specific to Columbia about chickens or livestock outside of the village covenants and I could not find anything. If you have information about Columbia laws, please post a comment or contact me via email so I can edit this post to provide the most correct information. Thanks!



3 Replies to “(Anti?) Chicken Laws in Howard County”

  1. Confusing! But it doesn’t look promising, does it? I really want backyard chickens too and I hear rumors there are several chicken households in my neighborhood. Hope you can figure out a way to get them!!!

  2. Hi Koofie, I came across your blog recently, as I was looking into laws regarding raising chickens in Howard County. I did a little more research, and found this awesome document: http://ssrn.stanford.edu/delivery.php?ID=296064003086022016026119077011004023051084051044068022009103076027119017065117102025061001111055010001121124024025019027102117126046036051078020064121068072000124105004030032090003079064113101088116077070&EXT=pdf

    It is long, but easy to read, and very informative. It is a survey done by the Environmental Law Institute in DC. It looks at 100 municipalities around the country that allow chickens, and how they regulate them. It provides recommendations for how cities or counties can structure zoning laws so as to accommodate backyard chickens in urban areas.

    I am thinking about heading up an effort to get Howard County to move with the times, and ease their restrictions on backyard chickens. My husband works in an industry that deals constantly with zoning issues, and he knows many zoning attorneys. If you or anyone you know of would be interested in helping out, let me know.

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