The chickens won't come home to roost in Cary. At least not literally.
Cary's Town Council turned down an idea, by a 4-3 vote, to look into allowing laying hens throughout the town. The decision came near the end of a meeting that stretched nearly until the cock crowed Friday morning.
Jack Smith said he had been approached with the idea by Cary resident Alissa Manfre. The item made it to the council agenda after Gail Adcock seconded Smith's request for discussion.
At the meeting, Adcock moved to have town staff look into the pros and cons of allowing the birds before the council reached a final decision.
"So whichever way we go it's based on evidence," Adcock said.
Smith, along with Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Erv Portman and Don Frantz kept the motion from taking flight.
"Is it really Cary?" Smith asked.
Several hours before the council discussion began, Manfre, who does not have chickens, used the Public Speaks Out portion of the meeting for avian advocacy.
Her concept for an ordinance would forbid roosters to limit noise, allow only six to 10 hens, ban backyard slaughter and impose a permitting fee to cover possible animal-control expenditures.
Benefits from the birds include better eggs, pest con trol, weed reduction, reduced fuel consumption and lower food costs, Manfre said.
Chickens also eat ticks and weeds, she said, and keeping them on premises means fewer trips to the grocery store.
"It's simply cheaper to produce your own organic eggs," Manfre said. Her estimates put the cost at $2 a dozen instead of $5 a dozen at a grocery store.
"They're also kind of fun pets," Manfre said.
Julie Robison was intrigued and said during the discussion that she might agree to the proposal.
"I would like to have fresher eggs," Robison said.
Beyond any ordinance change, the major hurdle for Robison to gather feathered friends, and likely for many other Cary residents, would have been getting the blessing of her homeowners association, she said.
Other council members pecked away at the proposal.
"We do allow chickens in Cary" in areas that allow homes on 40,000-square-foot lots, Portman said. "I don't think we should expand it."
Frantz just didn't care after being cooped up with his colleagues at the meeting that had already run six hours.
"It's just kind of a Pandora's box I don't want to open," said Frantz, who cited smell, noise and predators as possible side effects of allowing the birds.
He also had concerns about parents dealing with children who might unexpectedly witness a neighbor's layer being turned into a broiler.
"Quite frankly the only chicken I want to see is in the frozen-food section of the grocery store or on a plate right in front of me, because it's 12:30 [a.m.] and I'm starving."
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