Published: Aug 25, 2012 04:30 PM
Modified: Aug 25, 2012 04:18 PM
CARY - Backyard chickens are now legal in Cary. After years of on-and-off debate, the Cary Town Council voted Thursday to allow up to five hens, but no roosters, behind most single-family homes in town.
The council approved the measure by a 4-3 vote. New councilman Ed Yerha joined council members Gale Adcock, Lori Bush and Don Frantz to support the measure. Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson showed support for the measure but dissented because she didnt win enough of the conditions she argued for, while Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Councilman Jack Smith dissented on continuing concerns about poultrys potential impact on neighboring residents.
This is a 21st century ... agricultural movement, said Yerha, who broke the councils tie vote on the matter. Its been successful all over the place. The question is, will it work in Cary? Im thinking the only way were going to know ... for sure is to give it a try.
Robinson had suggested further requirements, such as fences or shrubbery to screen coops from sight. Weinbrecht and Smith continued to caution that the odors and sounds of chicken coops could devalue neighboring homes, and Smith warned that the decision could be hard to reverse.
Were already having problems with existing coops, Smith said. I think its way too complex, way too cumbersome, and in the end, its, do you really want farm animals in Cary? Does that represent Cary?
The change to the rules is the result of nearly five years of lobbying by Cary residents Alissa and Michael Manfre, who marshaled a network of supporters through CaryChickens.com. The husband-and-wife duo have plowed through research and kept council members on speed dial, all in the name of backyard poultry husbandry.
But through several failed attempts, they never dared break the town law that barred chickens from most property. So, with Thursdays decision, they were finally ready to start their dream coop.
Dropped off the permit application first thing this morning, Alissa Manfre tweeted on Friday. Hopefully picking up coop supplies this weekend.
Before most Cary residents can legally build coops in their backyards, they must submit an application and pay a $50 fee to the town. The new rules require coops be built at least 15 feet from buffers, that they stand closer to the poultry owners house than neighbors living structures and that owners dispose of chicken waste via composting or household garbage service.
The rules also forbid hens from wandering free through the yard, but they do allow for portable pens, or chicken tractors. Town staff wont personally inspect coops, but theyll review basic coop plans before issuing the permits. The town has posted guidelines at townofcary.org.
The revised rules also bring some worries for veteran poultry people, who warn that new owners could make some elementary mistakes. Learn your chickens diet and watch for hawks, dogs and foxes, cautions Amy Sherman, whose family built the Fort Knox of chicken coops on a rare chicken-legal lot in Cary.
And be careful, she said, not to buy a rooster.