Editorial: Allow Chickens In Carolina Beach

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 15 June 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

A resident has requested the Town of Carolina Beach amend the code of ordinances to permit keeping of chickens on residential properties.
James R. Wind of Birmingham Avenue recently submitted a request for an amendment to, "Allow people to chickens as useful pets. (As well as other small fowl)."
Seems easy enough. I've known people on this Island over the years (and currently) that keep chickens as pets and enjoy the benefit of fresh eggs for breakfast.
I have family and friends elsewhere in North Carolina that have chickens that walk around the yard out in the country.
As with any animal, they require attention including health, sanitation and a safe, warm place to sleep. Chicken coop insulated with an interior light.
However, some citizens have complained to the Town about others keeping chickens on their property.
Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin recently informed Council members of Mr. Wind's request. He explained, "As you may be aware we historically have not allowed chickens in Carolina Beach. Staff has received a handful of complaints over the past year in regards to chickens being kept as pets. Neighbors have cited concerns with noise and sanitation. After receiving complaints Mark has met with the various chicken owners. One of the owners decided to file for a text amendment to allow chickens. Although the owners with chickens are running “afowl” of the law we have put enforcement on hold while the “chicken amendment” is being processed. The applicant states chickens are useful pets that accommodate the growing trend of sustainable living. The chickens make good pets, quite (excluding roosters), produce food, and very docile around everyone. On the complainant’s side they contend that chickens lower their property value, increase risks for salmonella infections and result in an overall reduction in sanitation."
Parvin said it's a common issue that comes up in other communities so there is a wealth of information to research and provide recommendations to Council prior to a decision.
That won't likely come before the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission until August.
The City of Wilmington allows chickens to be kept as long as the property is at least 20,000 square feet along with other requirements such as distance from neighboring properties and structures.
New Hanover County, outside of municipal limits, has no ordinance governing chickens. They only react to health and sanitation issues as well as animal cruelty cases.
Are they safe? Do they reduce property values?
If limited to a reasonable number based on the size of the land, they're no more of a noise issue than a couple of dogs that bark constantly at night keeping the neighbors up.
As for sanitation, once again, it's no different than raising rabbits or pigeons. Reasonable limits control such situations.
On the topic of salmonella, it's just as possible for a kid to get a salmonella infection after handling that little turtle he found crossing the back yard or picking up basically any amphibian.
Tree frogs, toads, lizards or a friends pet iguana.
As for odor impacting an adjacent property, that's already controlled in the code of ordinances as a nuisance or sanitation issue.
As for keeping fowl in a general sense, we're surrounded by them 365 days a year.
Pelicans, turkey vultures, vultures, hawks, falcons, seagulls, crows, and the list goes on and on.
Are chickens noisy? Roosters don't just crow at sunrise, they do it anytime day or night and it's loud! Hens only do it after laying an egg or if they are threatened. Not as loud as the rooster crow.
Perhaps allowing hens but not roosters should be considered. And no, you don't need a rooster and hens to produce eggs unless you want the eggs to be fertilized to make more chickens.
And since you can buy baby chickens for around $5, why bother with a rooster?
According to mypetchicken.com, keeping chickens is easier than owning a dog. Check on them daily for eggs and closing the coop.
Fill their feed and water containers as needed. Change their bedding and remove the waste on a monthly basis (Use the waste as fertilizer). And thoroughly clean the coop twice a year for deep cleaning.
Chickens are also social birds, so having more than one is a good idea.
In our small town where lots are typically 50' x 100' in size, a good limit is likely 5 chickens. For comparison, I know people on this Island that have four or five dogs.
The Town of Cary, NC, permits property owners to keep chickens in certain zoning districts subject to some reasonable requirements. While both Town's are different geographically speaking, something could be learned from how they arrived at those regulations.
For example, no roosters and you have to keep them in a coop at night and they can't roam around the yard freely. They have to be kept in a pen.
The City of Charlotte, NC, regulates keeping chickens through a permit process of around $40 with an inspection of the site.
Of course, if you live in a neighborhood or condo building with a Homeowners Association, it's almost guaranteed the regulations prohibit keeping chickens and other livestock.
Personally, I wouldn't own chickens only because I've got enough to do on daily basis and wouldn't want the additional responsibility. If I want really fresh eggs, I head to the farmer's market or the Veggie Waggon in Carolina Beach.
The Carolina Beach Town Council should take notes from other communities that permit residents to keep chickens as pets.
Set some reasonable rules, boundaries and limitations and if it doesn't work out, adjust or ban it altogether.


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