An easy answer

Published 10:12 pm Monday, December 16, 2013

One of the great things about Suffolk is the fact that there are so many different types of communities to be found here.

Have a hankering for high-tech? Head over to North Suffolk’s Harbour View community, where some of the most cutting-edge companies in the world support some of the most advanced technology that you can get your hands on if you’re the type of person who runs, say, a nation’s naval forces.

Have an ache for the arts? Downtown’s got you covered, with galleries, performance spaces and a library chock full of books on art history, art appreciation and art instruction.

Email newsletter signup

Have a penchant for pastoral pursuits? Even after years of development, Suffolk’s rural areas encompass far more space than its residential and industrial areas. It’s easy to find the right property in Suffolk for anything from a kitchen garden to a full-on farm.

Furthermore, all of Suffolk’s various types of communities are pretty well defined. Nobody should be moving into a residential area really expecting to raise livestock. And nobody should be moving into an agricultural area thinking they won’t smell fertilizer once in a while or awake occasionally to the sound of combines running at first light. In fact, Suffolk’s various zoning designations are deliberately designed to reduce the likelihood of such clashes between neighbors with different expectations of what it means to enjoy the use of their properties.

When there are conflicts, they usually arise because someone decided to ignore the laws that are already in place. And that’s just what happened recently when one couple in Suffolk’s core residential district decided to build a henhouse in their backyard and begin raising chickens.

It wasn’t long before a few hens were joined by a rooster, and what had been a quiet — though still illegal under city code — way to get eggs suddenly turned loud and obnoxious to the neighbors.

Raising hens for eggs is all the rage right now, and cities around Hampton Roads have found themselves considering whether to allow citizens to do so within residential neighborhoods. All that debate has taken place publicly enough that all but the most disconnected area residents have reason to know there are hoops to jump through and, often, zoning laws to change before they can start raising livestock in their backyards.

Trying to sneak under the zoning radar isn’t a great way to engender trust in one’s ultimate intentions nor confidence in his degree of responsibility toward his neighbors. And having been caught sneaking under the zoning radar does not then give the offender any moral high ground from which to pursue policy changes.

In Suffolk, especially, there is an easy answer for those who would like to raise livestock in their yards. Move to a farm.