HOLLY SPRINGS — Residents hoping to join in on the growing trend of raising backyard chickens had a victory Thursday night when the Holly Springs Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the city allow small flocks in residential areas.
About a dozen fans of the backyard fowl flocked to the commission’s meeting Thursday and thanked the board for voting 3-1 to recommend that the City Council give the go-ahead to amending Holly Springs regulations to let the birds in. Commission member Donna Davidson was absent.
Several of the hopeful bird owners spoke to the commission in favor of the changes to city code which would allow residents to keep small flocks for food or pet purposes.
Resident Courtney Bailey said more and more residents are turning to backyard chickens for sustainability and to save money.
“I think with the downward spiral of our economy and the rise of welfare recipients, it would be a good option for some people to grow their own food,” Bailey said.
It’s also about personal liberties, she told the commission.
“I think all human beings should have the right to provide for their families,” Bailey said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed requiring a permit process for residents keeping the birds, but Community Development Director Nancy Moon said the idea wasn’t realistic.
“We really don’t have staff to process multiple permits and track them,” Moon told the commission. “A lot of our response right now, unfortunately, is based on a complaint. If we got a complaint, then we would go out and investigate, and if they didn’t follow the requirements of the ordinance then we would go from there.”
Sarah Hughes doesn’t live in Holly Springs, but owns chickens and has joined in on the fight for the fowl in the city. She told the commission too much permitting was unnecessary.
“These chickens,” Hughes said. “They’re not out causing trouble. The worst thing that could happen is they’ll tear up your garden.”
Hughes said making residents go through a permitting process would just be one more hoop for them to jump through and “doesn’t make any sense.”
“I think it would be an unnecessary burden on people,” she said.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Mike Herman was the lone commission member to oppose the vote Thursday night.
But Herman said after the meeting that he isn’t against the idea of keeping backyard chickens.
“I’m not necessarily comfortable with the way (the ordinance is) written in its entirety,” Herman said. “That’s about the extent of it. Maybe a couple of other tweaks, I’d probably be more inclined to vote for it.”
Herman said his chief concern with the specifics of the ordinance is the number of birds allowed per acre.
“Compared to some of the other ordinances I’ve researched, the numbers and size of the lots are a little bit conflicting all over,” he said.
Within the draft of changes to Holly Springs regulations, as many as 12 chickens could be allowed depending on how much acreage a bird owner has. To have 12, the property would have to be five acres.
Lots half an acre or less could have four birds. No roosters or crowing hens would be permitted.
For backyard chickens to get the final green light in Holly Springs, the City Council would have to approve the revised regulations in August, Moon said.