"Unless your neighbors care, it's not something we're going to spend time on. We're not going to go out inspecting for chickens."
Legalizing them, and other urban agriculture activities, is another matter, though.
Gardens have stormwater and fertilizer issues. What do you do with chicken waste?
"Eggs. Honey. Are you allowed to sell it? The deeper you go the more protections you need," Plagemann said.
"If you raise bees and your neighbor gets stung, you may think you have immunity under state law, but in the city you don't. State law gives beekeepers immunity, but in West Virginia a farm has to be at least 20 acres.
"I know someone on the West Side who has two hives. We've had calls. No one's been stung, but can he do it?"
The task force next meets at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the conference room of the City Service Center on Quarrier Street.
Plagemann's been researching laws in other cities to find models for Charleston.
"I'm looking at Portland, Baltimore, New York City, Seattle and Oakland, Calif. In San Francisco, it was so popular they have a person in charge of urban agriculture. The one that seems to best fit our needs is Somerville, Mass.
"And Chicago was one of the best. They broke it down into two types -- community farms and urban farms. Community farms was not-for-profit groups, church groups and neighborhood groups that wanted to have a garden just for themselves. That's like what we have here.
"The other is an urban farm -- a for-profit business. If you have an urban farm, you're selling things. Then you get into a business license."
Charleston's new rules will have to deal with business, he said. "I don't think we can avoid it. Once you put a sign out in your yard -- Fresh Eggs For Sale -- you'll need a license.
"We have so many vacant city lots -- city owned and CURA. Urban agriculture is a really good use for filling in those vacant lots, and it incorporates the community.
"Tom Tolliver told me he asked a young boy, 'Where does broccoli come from?' and the boy answered 'Krogers.' He said he needed to fix that."Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.