Some Holly Springs residents can now have up to three chickens in their backyard.
But others will have to convince their homeowners associations to change their covenants so they can take advantage of the town’s new rules regarding backyard hens.
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the Holly Springs Town Council unanimously approved amending town rules to allow property owners to apply for a permit to keep up to three hens on the property. The rule applies to property owners with a minimum 10,000-square-foot lot in residential or agricultural zoning districts.
The permit would require hens be kept in a pen and a coop behind the house at least 12 feet from the property line. No roosters are allowed.
“This is one of the most controversial issues I’ve ever seen in 15 years,” Mayor Dick Sears said before the vote. “There’s going to be people unhappy on one side or the other, whichever that turns out to be.”
Sears, who only votes in the event of a tie, did not vote.
Some residents have said they want chickens so they’ll have a steady supply of fresh eggs, as well as other benefits. Critics have cited concerns about noise and smell.
Many residents living in neighborhoods with a homeowners association won’t have to worry about backyard hens. Homeowners associations are able to overrule the town’s ordinance change and ban their members from raising chickens.
“I think a lot of the people who I heard from who were against it were in HOAs,” Councilwoman Cheri Ann Lee said. “Most of our HOAs that I know of don’t allow this, so I think they are protected that way.”
But this leaves some residents at odds with the homeowners associations that forbid the birds. Residents living in neighborhoods governed by HOAs must submit written approval from their HOA before they can be issued a permit for the chickens.
Under the new rules, Kris Karkoski, a resident of WoodCreek, won’t not allowed to have backyard hens.
“We’re going to ask our HOA soon,” he said on Twitter. “We’ll see what they say. Some education may be needed, but at least it’s possible now.”
A WoodCreek HOA representative could not be reached for comment.
Education is one reason Zak Pierce, a Brook Manor resident, plans to keep his “Hens 4 Holly Springs” Twitter page running.
Pierce created the page in the fall to raise awareness about some residents’ desires to own chickens. Now that the ordinance has been changed, he will use it to distribute information.
“Just have a place where people can go to to find either case studies or find research about the benefits of backyard chickens,” he said. “So I still want to continue that platform.”
Pierce and Karkoski said more education will prove the benefits of owning the birds, which include their eating insects, and could convince their HOAs to OK the chickens in their neighborhoods.
“Just taking my son out on a Sunday morning to get eggs and making omelette,” Pierce said. “It will be really neat for my son, who is almost 2 years old, to experience that and see where his food comes from.”
This was the second time in recent years that Holly Springs has raised the issue of backyard chickens.
A 2010 request to consider allowing chickens failed without a vote. No council member seconded a motion by Councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams.
“This has really gone back to 2009,” Williams said Tuesday. “It’s been going on for awhile, and we’ve been sort of caught in the middle between these two groups.”
Fuquay-Varina remains the only town in Wake County that doesn’t allow chickens and has been exploring the issue. Later this year, when the town examines its land use rules, residents will be able to comment on whether the ordinances should change to allow chickens.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon