Sunday, February 5, 2012
Backyard chickens are increasingly popular nationwide due to the growing interest in local, non-industrial food supplies and concern about rising food prices. New perspectives and cultural norms brought by recent immigrants also contribute. Chickens eat pests like slugs and ticks, and chicken manure can be composted into nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the lawn and garden. Many North Carolina cities allow chickens in urban areas.
Durham City Council adopted a Text Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance that allows citizens throughout the City to keep a limited number of female chickens (no roosters) for personal use with a permit and subject to certain standards. Residents are required to obtain a Limited Agriculture permit from the City-County Planning Department.
The permit requirement allows on-site enforcement and ensures that chicken owners are aware of the applicable standards. At the request of Council, the requirement includes notice to neighbors and administrative review if any neighbor objects. The proposed permit fee of $25 plus a 4 percent technology surcharge is the same as the fee for a home occupation permit. A building permit from City-County Inspections could also be required for a chicken coop as an accessory structure.
The proposed standards are drawn other jurisdictions, recommendations of County Animal Control, and general poultry and compost industry standards and recommendations. Their intent is to ensure that chickens are kept safe and healthy, that their living areas are clean and well-maintained, and that they do not create a nuisance or detriment to public health.