Cary: no chickens—yet

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There was no chicken coup in Cary Thursday night, as the Town Council postponed a final decision on whether to ease restrictions on backyard hens within the town limits.

The council voted 5-2 to direct town staff to draft an ordinance that would allow backyard hens, albeit with some restrictions. A public hearing will be held on the ordinance before the Town Council takes a final vote.

Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Councilman Jack Smith cast the dissenting votes. Weinbrecht said he is concerned about the enforcement of the ordinance, real estate values of properties near homes with backyard hens and the possible conflicts with homeowners’ association covenants.

“I’m kind of leaning toward the Mayor’s perspective,” Smith said, in reference to homeowners’ association concerns. Although Smith voted against the request to revisit Cary’s ordinance, he did suggest that the eventual proposal should “have teeth” in it to reduce the likelihood of being overturned by the court.

Councilman Don Frantz, who used to oppose backyard chickens but has relaxed his views, and Councilwoman Gale Adcock proposed amending the ordinance to allow the fowl.

“Some concerns I’ve had are no longer concerns of mine,” Frantz said. He suggested several restrictions for the amendment, including a maximum of eight chickens per single-family home (a standalone home, meaning no single-family apartments), a ban on roosters and backyard slaughter. In addition, the chickens would be for personal use only and could not be sold. Each household with backyard chickens would pay a $10 licensing fee.

Frantz adopted the proposal from other ordinances that allow backyard hens—Carrboro, Raleigh, Wake Forest and Durham allow them, also with some restrictions. However, Frantz said even if council passes the ordinance, there should be a delay before it is implemented to allow homeowners’ associations to adjust.

Alissa Manfre, co-founder of Cary Chickens, which advocates for backyard hens, thanked Town Council for its “open-mindedness and being willing to reconsider this issue.”

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