A Roseboro citizen came before town commissioners during Tuesday night’s meeting to encourage the board to allow citizens to keep chickens within the town limits, a practice the town’s laws currently prohibit.
With a petition signed by 127 people and with pages of information detailing the advantages of allowing urban chickens, Steven Heath shared with the town board the details of his request.
According to Heath, citizens should be allowed to keep hens on their property in town and suggested limiting individuals to a maximum number of 10 hens.
Roosters should not be permitted, said Heath, and citizens should be required to contain their hens in coops and with fencing.
He added that chickens’ wing feathers can be clipped, a painless procedure, according to Heath, to prevent them from flying over fences.
As the town board looked over information distributed by Heath, he shared with them many advantages to allowing citizens to keep chickens in town, including the promotion of sustainable living and responsibility, the production of fresh eggs, and the use of less pesticides because chickens naturally help control insects and pests, including ticks, mosquitoes, and even some small snakes.
Additionally, chickens produce less waste than cats and dogs, Heath pointed out, adding that chicken waste can be used to fertilize gardens.
Heath encouraged the town board to join other towns and cities in North Carolina, including Newton Grove, Garland, Raleigh, and Durham that already allow for urban chickens.
Commissioner Anthony Bennett questioned Heath about the prohibition of roosters. Heath explained that a rooster is not needed for hens to lay eggs.
“So you just want chickens for egg production not for baby chicks?” town clerk Amanda Beatty asked for clarification.
“Yes, just eggs, no chicks,” confirmed Heath.
Mayor David Alexander was hesitant to allow urban chickens in Roseboro, fearing that if the town allows chickens then people may come forward wanting the town to allow other animals that are considered livestock like horses, cows, and goats.
“I disagree,” said Heath, adding that chickens are not really considered livestock.
After looking over Heath’s petition, commissioner Richard Barefoot wanted to know if Heath’s neighbors’ signatures were in the list.
“Yes, they’ve signed it,” said Heath.
Commissioner Roland Hall noted that some of the signatures on the petition were by people who do not live in Roseboro. “Those will have to be discounted.”
Hall then questioned how to proceed given that this is an issue that will impact citizens’ neighbors.
“Is a public hearing needed,” Hall asked town attorney Billie L. Poole.
“It would be good policy,” responded Poole.
At the recommendation of the mayor, the town board decided to hold a public hearing at the next town meeting before making any changes to current town laws.
Heath later expressed his disappointment in the town commissioners. “To me that’s just putting it off. I call that stonewalling. They should’ve made a decision.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.