OAK ISLAND — As suburban chickens gain popularity, local governments are figuring out how to regulate them.
Next week, Oak Island Council will consider adding new language to its Code of Ordinances that would effectively allow — although with dozens of restrictions — keeping chickens in town limits. As the town’s animal code is currently written, domestic chickens are prohibited.
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The code amendments would reign in chicken ownership in Oak Island with the introduction of 29 new chicken-specific policies. At the same time, just up the road in Boiling Spring Lakes, Commissioners are considering opening up their city’s chicken code to let people living in its residential district keep up a small coop.
Oak Island’s proposed chicken code
A Council directive, Oak Island’s proposed chicken code is comprehensive.
A maximum of 10 female chickens can be kept in town limits only after obtaining a $50 permit. “There will be no discounting for chicks,” the proposed code states.
Roosters are prohibited. Chickens must be secured in a coop at night. Eggs, manure, chicks, grown chickens, chicken meat, or other chicken-related product cannot be sold. Like most local governments, Oak Island wouldn’t allow chickens to “run at large” in town limits.
Coops can’t be built any closer than 15 feet from a property line or within 25 feet of another dwelling. Lots with domestic chickens must be at at least 6,600 sq. ft., or about 0.15 acres.
The new language is being presented to Council at a May 14 regular meeting “to mitigate any potential unintended harmful consequences” caused by allowing chickens in town limits. Council can approve the changes without the Planning Board’s approval.
Boiling Spring Lakes
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Boiling Spring Lakes considered adopting a chicken code that would allow more people to keep hens in their backyards. Boiling Spring Lakes’ current code only permits chickens in its R-6 zoning designation, with a minimum lot size at 5 acres.
Boiling Spring Lakes’ Planning Board approved Unified Development Code amendments in March that would allow domestic chickens in all zoning districts.
The city’s 23 proposed chicken specifications include: requiring a permit, no roosters, hens are only permitted on 10,400 sq. ft. lots — about a quarter-acre — or larger, and no commercial activity (i.e. raising poultry or selling eggs).
According to Jane McMinn, the city’s clerk, Commissioners did not adopt the proposed changes Tuesday following its public hearing on the item. Setback requirements, proposed at a minimum 25 feet from a property line, could be shortened. The maximum hen rule — capped at eight per parcel — could be lowered, McMinn said.
Commissioners will revisit the issue during their June meeting after city staff address potential changes.
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