VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - There's a debate brewing in Virginia Beach on whether to allow backyard chickens as pets.
Currently, chicken coops are illegal in most Hampton Roads cities, but some believe the current law is outdated.
Rick, a Virginia Beach resident, built a chicken coop in his backyard. He currently has four chickens. "I call it the hen hideout. If everything goes well you'll get four eggs every day and that's enough for a four egg omelet. I guess you would call me civilly disobedient on this particular law."
The group " 4 Virginia Beach Hens " is trying to change that law.
Noah Meyers said there are many positives to keeping chickens.
"They lay eggs, they have manure you can use for fertilizer and they eat bugs and weeds," Meyers said.
Meyers is spearheading the movement, which exists on a nationwide level. He hopes the Beach City Council will eventually support him.
"We're wanting to push to legalize six hens and they would be housed in a fully enclosed coop," Meyers said.
With help from Councilman Bill DeSteph, a new ordinance was drafted, allowing residents to have six hens kept in coops. Chickens can only be kept in the backyard in a lot larger than 7,500 square feet.
"I don't think council is against it," DeSteph said.
DeSteph said fellow members were ready to talk about the ordinance until they learned about a state law standing in the way.
"It says if a dog chases your chicken, then the animal control, police or whoever, have to kill the dog," DeSteph added. "The state law is pretty clear on that."
DeSteph told WAVY.com the old law was meant to protect farmers. He believes if other cities ban together, the law can be changed.
Currently, the only the only Hampton Roads city to allow backyard chickens is Chesapeake, with a six hen limit.
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