HOAs stall Knightdale’s backyard chickens

mhankerson@newsobserver.comMay 13, 2014 

— When Town Council worked through the specifics of allowing backyard chickens, they were expecting “suburban chickens” to become the new utilitarian family pet of younger Knightdale families.

But almost five months after the ordinance passed, Senior Planner Jeff Triezenberg said the town only has one application to keep backyard chickens.

And that application, made by a resident who lives in the Emerald Pointe subdivison, is currently on hold because the neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association doesn’t allow residents to keep the chickens.

“Newer developments will have restrictions (and) they’re private and (the town doesn’t) enforce them,” Triezenberg said. “It’s kind of hard for us to know in the newer subdivisions.”

Council member Mark Swan was on the Land Use Review Board when the ordinance moved through that committee and the council’s Planning and Engineering committee.

He said the discussion of the role HOAs might play in actually allowing backyard chickens was not a major concern when the LURB reviewed the proposal.

“We probably assumed a lot of HOAs wouldn’t let (residents) do it, but that’s their right,” Swan said. “It’s not one of those things they’re going to have an absolute right to.”

The topic did come up in the Planning and Engineering Committee, though, Swan said.

The ordinance to allow chickens in Knightdale resident’s yards started with Meg Buckingham, who lives in Emerald Pointe. She brought the suggestion to the town council after seeing neighboring cities, like Raleigh and Durham allow residents to keep chickens.

But anticipating a struggle with the HOA, Buckingham currently doesn’t have any chickens. The town’s ordinance also requires anyone with a chicken have a 6-foot opaque fence and right now, she said she isn’t willing to put one up around her yard.

Instead, to avoid any hiccups with abiding by the town and her HOA’s requirements, Buckingham and her family volunteer at a farm in Bunn and get to visit and care for chickens about once a week.

Knightdale’s chicken ordinance limits families to have up to five hens, but no roosters in an effort to reduce noise. Coops require a permit and have to meet certain structural standards.

Coops have to be completely enclosed, stand no taller than 8 feet and include nesting and space for exercise.

Any coop must be at least 5 feet from any property line. Chickens have to be in the coop at all times and stay in their henhouse at night.

Residents have to submit drawings of the coop when they apply for the permit.

Triezenberg said the restrictions the town created paired with HOA rules doesn’t mean the amendment to the town code was useless because there are still several older neighborhoods in town that do not have homeowner’s associations.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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