Backyard hens in Cary could ruffle some feathers
Posted February 7, 2012
Cary, N.C. — A petition requesting that Cary lift its longtime ban on backyard hens will go before the town council Thursday, and the issue has picked up support from some surprising sources.
This will be the third time in four years that the council has considered allowing residents to keep a small number of chickens on their properties, but this time around, Councilman Don Frantz is on the opposite side of the fence.
In 2008, Frantz said the only chicken he wants to see in Cary is on a plate.
"It was a joke," Frantz said Tuesday, admitting that he's had a change of heart.
"It just came down to: Who the heck am I to tell other folks what they can or can't do if it's not going to hurt me?" Frantz said.
Frantz, along with Mayor Pro Tem Gale Adcock, are now requesting that Cary amend its town code to allow for backyard hens, as long as certain guidelines are followed:
- Single-family homes only;
- no roosters;
- no backyard slaughter;
- a maximum of eight chickens per property;
- an annual license fee of $10;
- and no free-range hens.
He's also proposing that the town delay the new ordinance for three months to give homeowner's associations time to address the issue and that the residents be allowed to compost chicken waste for fertilizer.
If his proposal is approved at Thursday's meeting, town staff would begin drafting a new ordinance, which would then be discussed in a public hearing before a final council vote.
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said he has concerns about Frantz's proposal, particularly how it will be enforced, whether it paves the way for other livestock to be allowed and whether it will create additional work for animal control staff.
"While I am open to considering any proposal, I can't support this on Thursday due to the unanswered questions," Weinbrecht said.
He added that current town code allows chickens and other livestock on lots that are 1 acre or larger.
Some Cary residents said they are pleased to hear the town is considering changing its policy. A group of humans calling itself Cary Chickens has pushed for a change since 2008.
Melisa Crane, who lives in Cary with her husband and three children, said she would definitely put up a coop in her backyard if the town allowed it.
"They're easy to take care of. They don't smell. They're low maintenance and they're fun," she said.
When Crane moved to Cary from Utah eight years ago, she said she had to leave her backyard chickens behind. She said she's "so excited" about the idea of getting four chickens and having fresh eggs every morning like she did back then.
"They taste better. It's cheaper," she said. "It's just so fun to go and pick your eggs."