Windsor says ‘no’ to more chickens

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

An ordinance that would allow chickens on low density residential lots was defeated in a 4-2 vote by the Windsor Town Council Sept. 12.

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The ordinance, in the works for months, was dubbed one of the most divisive issues to come before the Town Council, according to Mayor Rita Richardson. Voting against it were council members Patty Flemming, Tony Ambrose, Greg Willis and Durwood Scott.

The vote followed a public hearing where residents on both sides of the issue talked about chickens. 

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Resident Justin Williams was in favor of chickens.

 “I think they’re no different than dogs,” he said.

Others in favor touted their value as a learning tool for children.

Resident Lud Spivey spun a story about a prospective homebuyer viewing their dream home only to be confronted with a chicken coop in the neighbor’s yard — calling it a threat to property values, not to mention how the ordinance would discriminate against roosters and seemingly ask chicken owners to sit in the backyard while their hens scratch in the dirt.

“This law is a bad law,” he said.

Others cited health concerns arising from chickens, how the law would be enforced and the reluctance of some residents to speak out against the birds.

Council member Walter Bernacki, who initially ran for his seat based on the chicken issue, attempted to address each concern, such as property values, smell and enforcement.

Council member Macon Edwards said he had changed his mind about chickens after working on the ordinance and said potential conflicts boiled down to neighbors talking to each other.

“There’s not going to be a chicken in every lot,” he said.

Edwards proposed some additional conditions for the ordinance, such as the chickens needing to be owned by the property owner, but in the end, the proposal failed.

“We have larger issues in the town of Windsor that we need to deal with,” said Richardson after the vote.

The failed ordinance also included a provision for chickens in agricultural zones for lots less than five acres and keeping chickens in public areas. 

Last year, the town voted to allow chickens on lots zoned agricultural and five acres or more.

The ordinances follow on the heels of a similar one passed earlier this year by the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors, which allows for backyard chickens in some residential areas.