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Current regulations

Disclaimer: No one in our group is a land-use lawyer. This is our best guess at understanding the law, but we are not the ones whose interpretation matters. Please consult a lawyer for legal advice. 

Many of you signed our petition in the early days of the campaign, before we understood how to read the zoning code. The old information about 20,000 square feet is incorrect. The law is actually far more complicated, and the rules that apply to chickens aren't determined by lot size - they are determined by the type of zoning you live in. Our current understanding of the law is summarized below. 

Current Rules for Chicken Keeping in Prince George's County: 

There are two relevant parts of the zoning code that apply to chickens. One is for "all general agriculture" while the other is for "animals not customarily kept as pets." Under both sections, chickens are prohibited on most single-family, townhouse, and multifamily lots, including R-80, R-55*, R-35, R-20, R-T, R-30, R-30C, R-18, R-18C, R-10A, R-10, and R-H. Rural-Residential (R-R) lots smaller than 20,000 square feet are also effectively prohibited.*

For remaining zones, R-A (Residential-Agricultural), R-E (Residential-Estate), R-O-S (Residential-Open Space) and O-S (Open Space) zones, the answer is less clear. These zones allow "all general agriculture" but not "animals not customarily kept as pets." So, the legal status of livestock is uncertain. The law appears to contradict itself. This also includes R-R (Rural-Residential) lots greater than 20,000 square feet. 
*If you read the zoning code, you will see that some zones are eligible for a "Special Exception." However, getting a special exception requires thousands of dollars in filing and legal fees and is not feasible for a family wishing to add some pets to their household. We consider it to be de facto prohibition. 

Not sure what zone you're in? Click here for online zoning maps, or call the county to ask. 

Click here for descriptions of the different residential zones. 

Want to read the zoning code for yourself? It's online here. 

As you can see, the law is currently ambiguous and confusing. We hope that the County Council will end this confusion by issuing clear rules specific to backyarhens. But we need your help to make that happen.