Bickering dooms KDH backyard chicken proposal
The Board of Commissioners drew a full house for a public hearing but was unable to scratch up a majority of votes to amend a town ordinance that prohibits farm animals.
With Commissioner Paul Buske absent, the board voted 2-2 to reject an exception for backyard chickens, meaning it could not be reconsidered.
Mayor Sheila Davies and Commissioner Brandi Rheubottom sought a compromise, but Commissioners Bob Woodard and Mike Hogan said the issue had become too divisive and needed to be put to rest.
“It was mentioned tonight that we’d create a sense of community, but based on the phone calls and e-mails that I’ve had, it’s definitely not creating a sense of community,” Hogan said. “It’s doing just the opposite.”
Among about a dozen speakers — most of them favoring backyard chickens — some mentioned that sharing eggs would bring neighborhoods together. But others warned that keeping hens would affect property values. They also cited potential health problems, odors and noise.
Proponents said research had debunked such concerns. Many communities, including large cities like New York and San Francisco, allow chickens. So do unincorporated Dare County, Kitty Hawk and Manteo.
Davies suggested modeling the ordinance after one in Durham, which would require a town review for each request if a neighbor objected.
The proposed amendment in Kill Devil Hills already called for registering the hens, limiting the number to six and prohibiting roosters. It also set down specifications for coops and runs.
“I see the division that it’s caused, and that’s heartbreaking to me because we are a wonderful community” Rheubottom said. “And if you had told me a month ago that a chicken ordinance could cause the community division that this has caused, I would tell you you’ve lost your mind.
Photo: North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
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