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Backyard hens in Cary could ruffle some feathers

Posted February 7, 2012

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— 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.

Backyard hens Hens could soon roost in Cary backyards

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."

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  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Simplelogic, this is my first ever post and I would not know who to send to. I was hoping someone who did would forward bring with them.

  • simplelogic Feb 9, 2012

    Mydream, I only hope that your comments haven't come too late for folks to read them. I also hope that you have sent all this to the people making the decision.

  • simplelogic Feb 9, 2012

    Personally, I think that if you can obtain written permission from every neighbor within 2 houses from yours (front, back and sides), then that should override any HOA or city restrictions. If they don't care, why should anyone else? They're the only ones who would be impacted.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Like dogs, chickens make wonderful pets, they have their own personality, they follow you around like puppies and yet they also contribute to their up keep by supplying eggs and fertilizer. As for the cost I think that depends. Some chickens lay an egg almost every day and others don’t. By the way, chickens DO NOT lay less just because you do not have a rooster. If you are allowed chickens and want to determine the breeds that lay more often consult a Chicken chart: http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html. There are more good things but I will end by commenting that we as a nation have been expressing and claiming we are becoming more green and more sustainable and this is one small way that we could start doing what we claim we are doing. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    No we may not be allowed to have a farm but being allowed to have a few chickens can be a wonderful learning experience and PS chickens are a lot easier to take care of than most pets, if the kids get tired of them, no big deal. Tired of bugs, having a couple of chickens will clear out ticks, fleas, flies etc…basically all kinds of bugs. Their droppings make wonderful fertilizer. Don’t want it on your food, fine put it around your flowers and you will be amazed how well they grow (roses love this.) My kids have a pet bunny and one day a couple of years back my sister (in another state) said put it on your roses. I did and this past summer my worst rose (long stem that normally only has 2 stems and gets about 3 feet) was over 8 ft tall and was huge. She told me chicken droppings work just as well. My daughter loves animals and we go to a local chicken farm regularly.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Now for the good stuff, advantages of having chickens. Tired of your kids or loved one being consumed with internet, TV, etc. We complain about our kids never wanting to go outside; however, we are teaching the opposite. “When I was a kid I played outside all day.” Well that was because I was having fun playing in the barn or walking in the woods or a pasture. We had a huge garden every year and each of us had a certain number of rows we had to weed/maintain. We had animals outside that we interacted with. Start a garden or get a couple of chickens (also called girls) and you will probably notice that your kids will want to interact and be outside more.” We get all excited about bringing our kids to activities to keep them entertained. The zoo, farms, pet stores etc….but we are not allowed to give them the opportunity of learning about raising a creature that also gives.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Issue 6: Avian Flu: Information: I have not done much research on this but from what I have read we are much more likely to get Avian flu from wild birds which are very prolific in our area. My thought on this is that many other areas around us are allowed chickens and I don’t see why that would be an excuse to be used to against Cary. Based on a search it appears that a few steps will help. “ as a precaution, we recommend that backyard poultry be housed in a way that doesn’t allow contact with wild birds and prevents them from using the same pond or other water source as wild birds. Don’t allow wild birds to visit your chicken coop; use chicken wire to screen out wild birds like ducks. These measures can help prevent spread of more common bird diseases, such as salmonella, and will be even more important in the event that H5N1 avian flu virus is found in our region.”

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Issue 5: If I wanted chickens I would live on a farm. My thoughts:That may be the way a neighbor feels; but you could also say that about a neighbor who owns a dog,has a motorcycle or owns a purple car. If I wanted a dog I would own one. That does not give a person the right to say that their neighbor cannot have this. One of the issues I find with living in a neighborhood is that there is always 1 or 2 that feel it is THEIR right to complain or cause issues over even small things. When my neighbor’s son is playing loud music, or him & his friends are throwing up outside of my bedroom window while his parents are away, I have never complained. I just turn a small fan on and I cannot hear them no big deal. Sometimes it is easier and a lot less stressful to find a work around versus creating a neighborhood battle. Please ask yourself, why am I really creating these complains. Are they really valid or do I just feel the need to complain or control what other’s do.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    Issue 3: Chickens stink. My thought: Unless you have a chicken farm a chicken does not smell any more than a dog’s droppings would smell. Yes, a coop has a slight smell up close; however, once again, not any more than a dog pen would smell up close. A neighbor is not going to be able to smell a few chickens in their neighbor’s yard. Issue 4: I saw the comments about dogs eating chickens. My thoughts: the rules would restrict chickens to a coop or a fenced in yard so unless you are allowing your dog to run free even though we have a leash law there should be no reason why your dog should be getting your neighbor’s chickens in their fenced in yard or coop.

  • mydream Feb 9, 2012

    There are some wonderful chicken coops in some of the finest subdivisions in Raleigh and yes the houses are very close. Issue 2: Chickens are too loud. My thought: To my knowledge all single family homes owned by an individual are allowed dogs. A dog’s bark is by far much louder than a few chickens crackling when they lay an egg which tends to be when they talk. Yes, a neighbor that wants to cause issues may complain about a dog barking or a chicken that crackles; however, that is why each city has a noise ordinance and that ordinance would easily cover the noise that a few chickens would make. You have to remind yourself this would be for a few chickens not a chicken farm. Just like you cannot and would not be allowed a dog kennel.

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