Forced to Give Up Animals, Couple Wants Clarity in Albemarle County Code
Ashley Kippers with Honey and Ivy
Letter sent from Albemarle County.
An Albemarle County couple is fed up with a county code because it is forcing them to give away their backyard barnyard animals.
Ashley Kippers and her boyfriend, Mike Weisman, will have to give up their goats and chickens by the end of the week.
The couple received a notice two weeks ago from Albemarle County Chief of Zoning Ronald Higgins saying they were violating Albemarle County Zoning Ordinance 13.2 by keeping goats and chickens in a pen on their property. The letter stated that on June 27, an Albemarle County code enforcement officer visited the property and noted, "Multiple chickens and goats are kept in outdoor pen on property. This is not a permitted use in the Residential 1 [R1] District."
Both say they researched the county's zoning codes before moving into their home, an acre and a half of land near Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. It has also become home to their miniature goats, Honey and her daughter Ivy, their chickens, rooster, and newly hatched chicks. But within a week, they'll have to say goodbye to all of them.
"It's hard, they've become family," said Kippers.
The couple feels the only reason this is happening is because the current zoning laws are poorly written.
Weisman said, "We did our research we learned about the zoning laws in the area." Kippers added, "I couldn't find anywhere where it said that we were not allowed."
The couple says they would like more clarity in the code's language. "If something is prohibited, it needs to expressly state that it is prohibited because otherwise, most people would interpret something that is not addressed as being permitted," said Kippers.
Currently, the Albemarle County Planning Commission is considering changing the county's zoning code to allow agricultural land uses in more urban areas. Albemarle County Planning Commission Chairman Cal Morris says he believes allowing more agricultural uses should depend on how neighbors in each development feel about it.
Some of their neighbors are writing letters of support to the commission, so another family won't have to give away their animals.
Meanwhile, both Weisman and Kippers say that if the planning commission updates the code this year to allow chickens and goats, they will try and get their animals back.
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