Backyard chicken hens OK’d for Kill Devil Hills

By on July 10, 2013

chickenBackyard chickens will be allowed in Kill Devil Hills on a trial basis under a zoning amendment approved by the Board of Commissioners this week.

The amendment was slightly modified from one that led to an emotional disagreement among some residents last June over the potential for noise, odors and a perceived threat to public health.

A crowded public hearing was followed by a split decision between four commissioners.

This time, only one person objected at the board’s meeting Monday, and the vote was quick and unamimous.

Proponents, including the family that first proposed the idea, touted the prospect of fresh eggs and low-maintenance pets.

“Chickens are amazing compost factories,” said Sherry Rollason. ” They will turn almost any kitchen scrap into a nutrient-rich garden additive. Chickens make great pets. They have great personalities.”

The rules limit the number of chicken hens on one property to six, with a minimum of three. Roosters will not be allowed.

Keeping chickens will require obtaining a permit and sticking to specific rules for coops, setbacks and waste disposal.

Commissioners will have the option to take another look at the ordinance after two years or after 20 permits are issued, whichever comes first.

Backyard chickens, also known as urban chickens and suburban hens, have become increasingly popular as more people look for healthy, home-grown food. Numerous blogs and websites are devoted to their care and keeping.

But they weren’t allowed under the town’s ordinance, which said domestic fowl of all kinds were part of a prohibition against keeping livestock within town limits.

Many communities, including large cities like New York and San Francisco, allow chickens. So do unincorporated Dare County, Kitty Hawk and Manteo.

Photo: North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

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