(7/1) Emmitsburg residents will be allowed to raise and keep hens in backyard chicken coops following amendments to the town Code approved by the Board of Commissioners at their July 1
meeting. Under the amended Code, a maximum of four hens can be kept in side or backyard pens or coops, provided they are located at least 25 feet from residential units and comply with other zoning regulations
already in place. Chickens must also be registered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and a copy of the registration must be submitted to the town.
The changes to Title 17 of the Code, regarding zoning and prohibited uses, and to Title 6, regarding the keeping of dogs and other animals, were approved by the Planning Commission in April.
Commissioner Jim Hoover provided additional revisions to the language to clarify the town's oversight role in enforcing the regulations. An 18-month sunset provision on the ordinance was also approved on the
recommendation of Commissioner Chris Staiger.
The Board had appeared receptive to the ordinance since it came up for discussion in February. Town Planner Sue Cipperly was tasked with researching how the county and other municipalities
implemented their own backyard coop policies, and presented draft language aimed at allowing people to raise chickens who wanted to do so, while also taking into consideration safety, public health, and other
concerns neighbors may have.
"This is the most permissive chicken ordinance that I have seen," Cipperly told the Commissioners.
The full text of the ordinance, which passed with a 5-0 vote, is available on the town's website (http://emmitsburg.net/towngov/regulations/13-06_Title_6_Animals.pdf).
At the meeting the Board also discussed a proposed Code of Conduct for Emmitsburg's elected officials and town staff. The document emphasizes respect and discretion when when dealing with
other town officials, with citizens and other public organizations, and with the media.
The code was brought up for discussion in response to a complaint by a town employee against their treatment by an elected official, according to Mayor Don Briggs. Commissioners voiced general
support for the document's content, but cited concerns with some of the wording, and noted that its subjective nature makes it unenforceable. It was left unclear when or if the code will be brought back for possible
adoption at a future meeting.
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