Davidson’s final board meeting of the year was markedly cheerful, probably because of all the chicken jokes.
The board voted 5-0 Tuesday night, Dec. 14, to amend its ordinance banning domestic fowl. The town will now allow families in Davidson to have backyard chickens, but they must be hens.
Lauren Blackburn, Davidson’s planning manager, said she talked to families that have chickens in their backyards. “Most people with hens treat them like a member of the family,” she said, which seemed to astonish Commissioner Brian Jenest.
“Can you pet them? I mean, are they like a cat?” Jenest asked, amid roars of laughter from the bench.
Blackburn also said the research she and Cindy Reid conducted before drafting the amendment showed that most other towns that allowed chickens in residential areas had a maximum of four to 10 chickens per family.
“We decided to go with the least number as a maximum,” said Reid, who is the town’s affordable housing coordinator. “Four was really enough to produce eggs for a family.
Blackburn followed, “Hens usually produce about an egg a day, on a good day, so for a family of four, those eggs add up.”
Commissioner Margo Williams pointed out that Blackburn seemed to know all about chickens. “She’s an eggs-pert,” Williams said, continuing the chicken-speak.
Toughing it out, and trying to ignore the puns, Blackburn continued to explain the restrictions of the ordinance.
“It’s important to note that this involves hens only,” she said. “Ducks, geese and roosters are not included.”
Blackburn said it was also important to note that there are many neighborhoods in Davidson that have rules against keeping chickens, and that the ordinance passed by the town does not supercede those private land uses.
The ordinance requires the following restrictions for those who do choose to have hens.
• There may be no more than four hens, and no roosters.
• The chickens are only allowed on residential property.
• Outdoor slaughter of chickens is prohibited.
• At night, the chickens must be kept in a secure coop. During the day, the chickens can be out in a pen.
• A chicken coop must be at least 10 feet from all property lines, and it must be placed in the backyard of the residence.
• Coops must be kept neat, and they have to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent offensive odors.
Blackburn showed the board some examples of acceptable coops, and emphasized the importance of its security, since other animals will try to get in.
Following her presentation, the board voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance amendment.
A change to the planning ordinance
The board voted unanimously to modify the town’s planning ordinance to keep buildings from facing an alleyway. The town staff said, to their knowledge, there were no examples of this in the town.
Kris Krider, the town’s economic development manager said an alley is a very specific type of street.
“An alley is a public right of way, that is very narrow and often just a one-way street,” Krider said. “It’s a certain street type that is not appropriate for a storefront.”
The change only refers to main buildings, and will not affect accessory structures like parking garages.
The ordinance now only allows buildings to face streets and walkways.
At the meeting Tuesday night, the board also:
• Held a public hearing for and then adopted guidelines for funding nonprofit agencies. The guidelines were modified before the vote to allow some flexibility for town staff when they draft the budget, while still guiding the Nonprofit Committee in making fund grants.
• Accepted four streets, Windward Drive, Jib Court, Spinnaker Court and Spinnaker Cove Drive, to be maintained by the town.
• Approved the 2011 Metropolitan Transit Commission legislated agenda, which will guide the lobbyists who seek federal funding for the region’s transportation.
• Cast ballots to elect members to the town’s Design Review Board, Planning Board and Public Art Commission. Because of potential restructuring of some boards in the spring, the town staff and commissioners decided to leave some seats vacant.
• Added the Nonprofit Committee to the list of town boards that are appointed by the mayor.
For the full ordinance, click Davidson Chicken Ordinance