The Botetourt Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve amendments to the county zoning ordinance that will allow restricted “home agriculture” uses on some residential zoned property.
Supervisors Steve Clinton and Dr. Mac Scothorn voted against the changes. They represent the Amsterdam and Valley Election Districts that have the largest number of residential (R) zoned subdivisions.
They worried that allowing poultry such as chickens and honeybee hives would cause problems on the smaller lots that residential zoned developments have.
The supervisors directed county staff and the Planning Commission to consider amending the county ordinance to see if allowing certain agriculture uses in residential districts had a place in Botetourt.
That was almost two years ago. In January 2017, Michael Lewis petitioned the supervisors for a zoning ordinance text amendment that would allow apiaries in R-zoned districts. He lives in Daleville and had honeybee hives on his property behind Lord Botetourt High School.
At the time, beekeeping was only allowed in Agriculture (A-1) zoned districts.
Instead of looking only at beekeeping, the planning staff asked the supervisors for permission to look at the overall ordinance and consider other home agriculture uses — such as keeping chickens since staff had had inquiries about that for R-zoned areas.
What evolved after public input meetings and public hearings before the Planning Commission was a 5-0 recommendation from the commission to approve changes to allow specific home agriculture uses — such as chickens, rabbits, beehives, but with restrictions on numbers, how they are kept and not allowing roosters and certain fowl and poultry that are noisy.
The supervisors balked at voting on the recommendations at their October meeting since it looked like there would be a 2-2 tie since Blue Ridge District Supervisor Billy Martin was absent.
Martin and Fincastle District and Buchanan District Supervisors Jack Leffel and Ray Sloan voted to approve the ordinance change.
— Ed McCoy