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Ordinance to expand backyard chicken raising in Morehead city limits fails first reading


After a 4-2 vote by the Morehead City Council, expanded backyard chicken ownership failed to pass first reading during the May regular meeting. The ordinance would have allowed people in city limits to keep chickens in their yards and raise their own protein, the same way they grow vegetables in gardens. Proponents said the ordinance was crafted based on rules other cities follow when it comes to chicken ownership.

Council member Edna Schack was on the committee that drafted the ordinance. She said they worked closely with environmental and agricultural officials and organizations to find the best way to allow people in city limits to raise their own chickens and eggs.

“We wanted the chickens treated humanely, so we found the best approach to coops with lots of detail, with runs, distance, you had to be at least 10 feet from your property line and also 25 feet from the nearest residents so, we think we did the best job we could to pull that together,” said Schack.

The drafted ordinance also addressed odor and noise concerns and included a stipulation that people in violation of those rules would receive a lifetime ban on chicken ownership.

Council member David Perkins voted no. He said that although he supports the ordinance in theory, the proper processes were not followed.

“I don’t really have any opposition to poultry in the city, particularly chickens, particularly if they’re well maintained. I mean, there are already several citizens, or persons, in the city that have chickens, and you hear very little about them. I have no problem with it if it’s done properly,” said Perkins.

Perkins and Schack said the issue may well come up again before council.