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If you are thinking about having chickens pecking in your back yard you aren’t alone. It was about 5 or 6 years ago that I was looking at the Meetup.com site to see what meetups were happening in the area. I was surprised to see a chicken and egg exchange meetup with 50 members signed up. That gave me a big clue that chickens were happening in the Triangle. A few months later I was shopping in Costco and what did I see? A chicken coop, in stylish plastic like a Little Tykes toy. Except it wasn’t a toy. I knew then chickens are a big deal. The Raleigh Durham Backyard Poultry Meetup Group has over 800 members! You can find resources and friends interested in chickens there.
The towns are catching up with their laws, chickens are allowed in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Neighborhood HOA’s are still restrictive. Here are some things to consider if you want to raise chickens in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Chapel Hill Chicken Ordinance (no roosters)
For residential zoning. The Town of Chapel Hill Chicken Ordinance:
Agriculture, female chicken: The use of land for the keeping of female chickens in accordance with the following regulations:
(1) No person shall allow his or her female chickens to run at large.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to keep more than ten (10) female chickens.
(3) Female Chickens must be kept a minimum of thirty (30) feet from the nearest residence other than that of the owner and may not be kept between the street and a line drawn parallel to the street facing walls of a residence.
(4) All female chicken houses and lots must be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition at all times.
(5) It shall be unlawful to raise female chickens for commercial purposes.”
Carrboro’s Chicken Regulations
Carrboro may be revising it’s chicken ordinance. There have been complaints that the law is arbitrary and unfair. 10,000 sq ft (see below) doesn’t relate to the number of chickens and how much room they need. What I really think is strange is that the eggs can only be consumed by the people who live on that lot. It would be illegal to give away eggs or even make a friend an omelet!
No barn, cage, pen, or similar structure used for the keeping of rabbits or fowl shall be erected or maintained within 15 feet of any property line or street right-of-way line.
(1) The tract where such livestock are kept shall consist of at least 10,000 square feet. (2) Such livestock may be kept only (i) on a lot used for residential purposes and only for the consumption of persons who reside at that lot, or (ii) on a common open space area within a residential development with the written permission of the owner of such common space land accompanied by a copy of association minutes reflecting the approval decision, and only for the consumption of persons who reside within that residential development. Such livestock may not be kept for commercial purposes. (Amend. 10/6/09)
Neighborhood Homeowners Associations Covenants
Many people want to be in a neighborhood and ask me what neighborhoods allow chickens. It’s not that easy to tell. This is where you have to be really careful. Read the covenants before buying. Check to see if there have been any amendments to the covenants.
HOA covenants may not allow (usually don’t) poultry. Even if the covenants don’t mention poultry they may address outbuildings and the need for approval. The association may deny your request for a chicken coop.
If you see chickens in the neighborhood that doesn’t mean they are allowed. The neighbors may be overlooking them but that doesn’t mean your neighbors will.
Even new green and environmentally friendly neighborhoods may not allow poultry. When a developer plans the neighborhood covenants they will often use boiler plate covenants that they adapt for the neighborhood. The poultry and live stock restrictions are already in the covenants and they don’t think about taking them out.
Here is a great guide to Carrboro HOA’s and their restrictions. Use as an initial screening but don’t substitute for research and reading the covenants. If chickens are the deciding factor in buying your home you should get an attorney to read the covenants if you don’t think they are clear. There can be conflicting information in the covenants.
Not in a Neighborhood
Homes listed in the MLS as not in a neighborhood will not have restrictive covenants. That is your best bet for having chickens. You would only be subject to the town ordinances. Lot of older houses right in town in Carrboro and Chapel Hill fall in this category so you don’t have to be out in the country to have chickens. If you want me to help you as a buyers agent I can set a search for homes not in a neighborhood as a start.
I hope this makes it a little more clear about raising chickens in Chapel Hill and Carrboro!