If you'd like to read a version of the draft outline that is formatted nicely into a chart (the version created by Community Planning and Development) click on this link.
Updated on 1/27/11. Updated information is in red.
We are pleased to share with you the draft outline for a new Food-Producing Animals ordinance for Denver. It was prepared as a collaborative effort with Community Planning and Development (zoning), the Department of Environmental Health (animal control), and the City Attorney's office.
analysis of the impact of chicken ordinances on cities, as part of a study done through De Paul university.
The most important thing to convey about this draft is that it's just what the name implies. It's not in any way final. It's a proposal, which is subject to change. However, I think it's a great starting point for a new FPA ordinance for Denver.
This draft outline proposes the keeping of a limited number of FPAs (8 female fowl, 2 dwarf dairy goats) without requiring a permit. However, just as was done when Denver enacted its beekeeping ordinance, there are some guidelines for keeping the animals. Significant care was taken to be sure that the guidelines were reasonable, and would not prevent those with even a modest amount of yard from raising FPAs.
The guidelines exist for 3 purposes:
- To require the keeping of the animals in a way that supports their basic welfare
- To mitigate the potential impact of the animals on the surrounding neighborhood
- To (hopefully) address the fears of anyone who would oppose this ordinance. For example, some people oppose the idea of chickens in the city by saying "People will be keeping chickens on balconies! People will be keeping chickens in apartments!" etc. The guidelines exist to provide a common-sense answer to those kinds of concerns.
Please see below for the draft outline. The changes are divided into two sections. The first are the changes to Denver's Zoning Code, and the second are changes to the Animal Code. The elements in blue are proposed changes. The italic green writing are comments from Sustainable Food Denver on the draft outline.
Food Producing Animals in the City of Denver
Proposed Ordinance Changes
Prepared by Community Planning and Development Department, Department of Environmental Health (Animal Control), and the City Attorney’s Office for Councilmember Chris Nevitt and the Mayor’s Sustainable Food Policy Council. This document is a draft for public review and discussion. Provisions outlined below remain subject to change as public review continues.
Proposed ordinance changes to the Denver Zoning Code and the Animal Code (D.M.C., Chapter 8) to change the current allowances for Food Producing Animals (FPAs). Food Producing Animals include fowl (chickens, ducks) that produce eggs, and dwarf goats that produce milk.
Proposed Amendment to the Denver Zoning Code
Intent of Amendment:
Promote the keeping of Food Producing Animals and concurrent food access and food security benefits, where most appropriate, while assuring compatibility with existing land uses and minimization of any adverse impacts on neighboring properties or neighborhood character.
Purpose for Amendment:
Denver currently allows FPAs in all zone districts as an accessory (secondary) use to a primary residential use. Before Denver residents may keep FPAs, they must submit an application to the city for a Zoning Permit with Informational Notice (“ZPIN”). The process for granting a ZPIN includes providing written notice to registered neighborhood organizations, as well as posting a sign on the subject property informing the public that a permit has been requested, and inviting comment. In addition to providing the standard ZPIN notice just described, an applicant wanting to keep Food Producing Animals must also notify abutting homeowners and request letters of support. The Denver Zoning Administrator considers the ZPIN application and all public comments, and decides whether to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit application.
The proposed Denver Zoning Code amendment would:
1. Change the zoning review process for keeping Food Producing Animals by allowing a set number and type of FPAs without a ZPIN process, similarly to how Denver allows its residents to keep dogs, cats, and domestic honeybees.
a. Keeping FPAs would, as with domestic honeybees, be subject to specific standards to avoid any potential impacts on neighboring properties.
b. Just as with keeping of other animals, if a resident does not follow the required zoning standards (typically discovered after a complaint is made to the city), the City can issue a notice of violation and work with the resident to correct any problems. If problems are not timely corrected, the City may take more formal action to abate the problem through municipal court.
2. Allow FPAs to be kept not only on residential properties, but also on properties occupied by civic or institutional users, such as schools or churches, or occupied by restaurants.
Summary of Denver Zoning Code Amendment
Allowed or Not Allowed
Expressly list specific types of FPAs allowed as an accessory use:
1. Maximum of 8 chickens/ducks (no roosters) per zone lot.
2. Maximum 2 dwarf goats and any number of their offspring younger than 6 months, per zone lot. No intact male dwarf goat older than 6 weeks may be kept on the zone lot.
Male animals are prohibited primarily to minimize noise and odor impacts. “Dwarf goats” will be defined to allow only Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy species (commonly raised for their milk).
Maintain the current use allowance and ZPIN review process for any FPAs not listed above and applications to keep more than the maximum number specified. See DZC, Section 11.8.6.B.
Type of Use/Where Allowed
Allow keeping FPAs as accessory use to the following primary uses in all zones (note: no change to primary “animal husbandry” use allowed in certain Industrial and Open Space zone districts):
1. Residential Uses
2. Civic/Institutional Uses
This includes schools, churches, and nursing homes.
3. Urban Gardens and Greenhouse Uses
4. Restaurants (Eating & Drinking Establishments)
Zoning Review Process
For the specific FPA types listed above, and provided the maximum numbers are not exceeded:
1. No zoning permit required
2. No public notice requiredThis is a critical part of the proposed changes -- you can have up to 8 fowl and 2 dwarf goats without a permit!
For all other types of FPAs and/or more than the allowed maximum number, a Zoning Permit with Informational Notice (ZPIN) required
1. No on-site slaughtering allowed.
2. Structures housing the FPAs must be located at least 10 feet from any structure containing a dwelling unit on abutting properties.
Any dwelling built within the last 55 years must have a 5 foot setback from the side property lines. So, that means that (at most) you would need to keep your FPA shelter 5 feet from your own property line, since the neighbor's house would also be set back 5 feet from their property line. However, some older dwellings are built right up to the side property line. In that situation, you could place your shelter further back on the lot, so that (if you were to draw a diagonal line) it would still be 10 feet from the neighbor's dwelling.
People can build their homes right up to the rear property line, so if the neighbor behind you has built their house in that way, your FPA shelter will need to stay 10 feet from that. However, this applies only to the FPA shelter itself. Your chickens and goats are free to wander in their fenced area, including up to the property line.
3. As accessory to a primary residential use, FPA use must be maintained within the rear 50% of the zone lot. Zoning Administrator may approve exceptions to this standard based on a site’s physical characteristics through an administrative process (no public hearing or public notice).
No Change. Neighborhood Inspection Services (NIS) will inspect after complaints; work with owner to correction violations; issue notice of violation orders; follow-up with more formal, court-ordered remedies as necessary.
Proposed Amendment to the Denver Animal Code
Assure the long-term care, health and welfare of Food Producing Animals; prevent the spread of disease; prevent cruelty and neglect to animals; and protect adjacent properties from adverse impacts due to animal escape or to improper care or treatment of animals or their waste.
Purpose for Amendment:
Keeping of Food Producing Animals currently requires either fowl or livestock permits issued by the Denver Department of Environmental Health (DEH). The DEH permit process includes a pre-permit inspection and an annual inspection/renewal of the permit. In addition to permit requirements, Denver’s animal control laws (D.M.C., Chapter 8) include generally applicable standards that control an owner’s treatment or management of domestic animals, including prohibitions on herding or grazing, proper handling of animal waste, prohibition on damages to public or other private property, and prevention of cruelty and neglect to animals. These generally applicable standards would apply equally to FPAs, without any need for amendment, except as specifically listed below.
The proposed amendment to the Denver Animal Code (D.M.C., Chapter 8) would:
1. Change the DEH process for keeping Food Producing Animals by allowing a set number and type of FPAs without requiring a DEH livestock or fowl permit or annual permit renewal, similar to how Denver allows its residents to keep dogs, cats, honeybees, and other domestic animals. Keeping of different types of FPAs other than chicken, ducks or goats, or keeping more than the maximum allowed number of FPAs as set by the Denver Zoning Code, would still required a livestock or fowl permit.
a. Keeping a limited number of FPAs would, as with dogs and cats, be subject to specific standards under the Animal Code to assure the long-term health and welfare of the animals and to protect neighboring properties from any potential adverse impacts due to the improper care or management of the animals.
b. Just as with keeping of other animals, if an owner does not follow the required animal control standards (typically discovered after a complaint is made to DEH’s animal control division), DEH will work with the animal owner to correct the problem and, if necessary, issue a citation or summons. If problems are not timely corrected, the City may take more formal action to abate the problem through the Denver County court.
2. Expand the current animal licensing laws to require licensing for dwarf goats to facilitate return of the animal to its owner should the animal escape. [This provision is still under review by DEH/Animal Control.]
This may end up being deemed unnecessary by Animal Control.
3. Expand the current “leash law,” which now applies only to dogs, to also apply to goats, such that it would be unlawful for goats to run “off leash” when not contained on the owner’s private property.
4. Expand the current “barking dog nuisance” ordinance to include protection from FPA animal noise. As with dogs, the city may not issue a summons against a FPA owner unless there are at least two or more complaining witnesses from separate households.
Summary of Animal Code Amendment
Allowed or Not Allowed
Process (Permits, Licensing, Public Notice)
For the specific types and maximum number of FPAs allowed in the Denver Zoning Code:
1. No livestock or fowl permit is required
2. Animal license required for goats only [this provision is still being reviewed by DEH]
For all other FPA types and/or for more than the allowed number, a DEH livestock/fowl permit from DEH will still be required.
Require the following:
1. Fowl: 4 sq. ft. of permeable land area per chicken or duck.
2. Goats: 130 sq. ft. of permeable land per goat, plus at least 15 sq. ft. of shelter space per goat
3. All FPAs:
a. Adequate shelter/enclosure must be provided to protect the animals from the elements and to prevent wildlife or other predators from gaining entry.
b. Adequate fencing shall be provided to contain the animals to prevent escape.
c. Animal noise will be controlled similar to how barking dogs are controlled.
d. FPAs will be subject to the Denver leash law.
Generally applicable standards controlling cruelty to animals, proper handling of waste, prevention of damage to public or private property, and control of other animal nuisances will continue to apply to FPAs as they do today.
So, there you have it! If you currently own FPAs, want to own FPAs, or just care about urban sustainable food systems, let us know what you think.