The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 21 meeting will conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance change to allow chickens in all residential areas.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said while the issue has come up before, people are really clucking about it now.
"We debated it once before, and we did not really get anywhere," he said, adding the primary interest is allowing chickens for egg production, but added some people do see them as pets.
Chickens are only allowed in residential areas if the lot is two acres or larger. One chicken is allowed per acre beyond two acres.
Chief Marshal Ray Waters said the first violation results in a notification, but the second could result in a citation and a required appearance in Cherokee County Magistrate Court. The maximum sentence is a $1,000 fine and/or 60 days in jail, with the sentence determined by the judge.
Waters said backyard chickens are growing into a real problem.
"It seems like there have been more complaints now than there was at this time last year," he said.
During the board's meeting last week, Johnston threw out a suggestion of allowing six chickens on half an acre, 12 on one acre and 25 on two acres or larger.
The county staff since has recommended a flat rate of eight chickens in residential zoning, coinciding with the number of dogs that are allowed.
Sabine Yepes, owner of the TC Country Store in Macedonia which sells chicks and supplies for raising them, started a petition on Monday in support of allowing chickens on less than two acres in residential areas.
"It is a very hot topic," she said, noting the recent recall of more than one-half billion eggs by two Iowa farms following a national salmonella scare. "People want control over the type of food that they eat."
She said other benefits of keeping chickens include a decrease in bugs and the relaxing feeling you gain from raising animals.
Mrs. Yepes said if you sit out among chickens after a hard day of work, it is "very calming."