December 13, 2016

MEMO TO:              Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Ordinance Amending Chapter 8 – Animals - of the Code of Ordinances to Allow Chickens on Large Properties - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the attached ordinance amendment that would allow property owners with more than 2 acres to own, harbor, or possess chickens within the Town limits.  The attached ordinance amendment is requested by resident Danielle Merrell, and is structured in a similar manner as the Town’s ordinance allowing horses on large properties.

As you know, the Town’s ordinances currently prohibit the ownership, harboring, or possession of chickens everywhere in the Town limits.  The intent of this ordinance is to prevent negative noise, smell, and appearance impacts on nearby property owners, particularly considering that the typical residential lot size in Emerald Isle is in the 12,500 – 15,000 sq. ft. range, with homes in generally close proximity to one another.  Danielle Merrell, a soundfront resident in the 7000 block who lives on a larger parcel, approached the Board at the November meeting to specifically request that an exception be created for large properties, and cited the food, educational, and personal enjoyment benefits that her family realizes from the chickens currently located on her property.  The Board expressed a willingness to consider this issue in more detail at the December meeting.     

The Town’s ordinance also prohibits horses, but does include a specific exception for large properties (greater than 5 acres) with certain conditions aimed at mitigating impacts on nearby property owners.  This ordinance has been in effect for approximately 15 years, there are currently 2 property owners in Emerald Isle with horses, and there have been no significant complaints about these properties.  The attached ordinance amendment creates a similar exception for chickens on large properties (greater than 2 acres; chickens are much smaller than horses and can be contained in a much smaller area), with similar conditions aimed at mitigating impacts on nearby property owners.  These conditions include:

  • a requirement that all chickens are of the female gender,

  • a cap of 25 chickens per property,

  • the chickens must be owned by the property owner,

  • the property owner must secure written permission from all directly adjacent property owners with a common property line,

  • the property owner must contain the chickens and not allow chickens to run at large,

  • the property owner must maintain chicken facilities in a clean and healthy condition, and

  • the property owner must collect chicken waste from the containment area daily and store said waste in a designated compost pile at least twenty-five (25) feet from any adjacent property line.

The Board should note that there are approximately 20 residential properties in Emerald Isle that are greater than 2 acres, and thus this exception would be limited to these properties only.  Nearly all of these properties are located on the soundfront in Emerald Isle.  The Board should note that the exception would not apply to condominium complexes, mobile home parks, RV parks, or commercial properties, unless each unit is allocated 2 or more acres.  In other words, a tenant in a mobile home park on a typically sized mobile home lot could not keep chickens simply because the overall mobile home park property is larger than 2 acres.

If the Board believes 2 acres is not the appropriate size property, the attached ordinance amendment can be modified to stipulate any size property the Board believes is prudent.  The Board should note that there are approximately 121 residential properties in Emerald Isle that are 1 acre or larger, approximately 56 properties that are 1.5 acres or larger, and only 3 properties that are 5 acres or larger.

Danielle Merrell will attend the December 13 meeting to answer any questions the Board may have, and I will be happy to answer any questions or provide additional insight for the Board’s consideration.