Baltimore County planning board to consider easing rules on keeping chickens as pets

The Baltimore County Council on Tuesday asked the county planning board to consider whether more residents should be allowed to keep chickens as pets.

Members unanimously approved a resolution requesting a planning board review of zoning regulations on chickens and other fowl. Some residents have urged the county to relax its rules, which now require people to have at least an acre of land if they want to keep chickens. Advocates have pointed to health, environmental and educational benefits of people raising their own chickens.

The resolution doesn't give the planning board a deadline to report their findings to the council. Councilman John Olszewski Sr. urged the board to take into consideration the problems that could arise in rowhome communities.

"Neighbors live in close proximity, and I don't want to have neighbor against neighbor fighting over this issue," the Dundalk Democrat said.

Under an amendment approved by the council, the county health department will be consulted about possible changes to the zoning laws on backyard poultry. The resolution was sponsored by Council Chairman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat; Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican; and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat.

The council on Tuesday also approved a resolution -- sponsored by the same members as well as Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat -- asking the county's Commission on Environmental Quality to review the county's standards for planting and preserving trees, and to compare the standards to those of other local governments. In April, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced goals for increasing the number of trees throughout the county.

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