Chickens stew in IW

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By Stephen Faleski

Special to the News-Herald

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors took no action last week on a proposed change to the county’s zoning ordinances that would allow residents to keep chickens on residential-zoned properties.

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Following a public hearing, supervisors also tabled a vote Thursday on an application for a special-use permit for a proposed event center on Lawnes Drive.

However, another proposed event center, to have been located on the Aberdeen Farms property in the Hardy District, was denied by a 3-2 vote. Board Chairman Rex Alphin, Vice Chairman Rudolph Jefferson and Joel Acree voted in favor of denying the permit, while William McCarty and Dick Grice voted against denial.

According to McCarty, the board voted to table the chicken issue because the current language of the proposed changes to the county’s ordinance would have permitted chickens anywhere in the county’s residential areas, without first considering homeowners’ associations or citizens’ comments.

According to Alphin, board members will contact citizens to get more feedback on the chickens policy.

“We’re exploring what we can do to enable residents to raise chickens,” Alphin said. “We want to try to look at some ways we can allow it without infringing on neighbors’ rights.”

No citizens spoke about the issue during citizens’ time, but Alphin hopes there will be citizen comments on the topic during the board’s January meeting.

During its financial presentation, the board announced that Fitch, an agency responsible for calculating the county’s bond rating, had reaffirmed the county’s AA rating, which, according to McCarty, is the best credit rating the county can hope to achieve at this time. The next highest rating is AAA.

The board also announced that the Isle of Wight recently received its third consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

When it came time for board members to suggest new business, McCarty asked county staff to prepare a report on all county ordinances that include language stating that county officials are exempt from following them.

“The board should not enforce laws we are unwilling to follow ourselves; it sends the wrong message to our constituents,” McCarty said.

The board concluded by announcing that it will again revisit potential uses for the controversial waterfront Stoup Property at the foot of the James River Bridge, which the county purchased in 2008 for $1 million, a price well above the parcel’s assessed value.