Concern in West Columbia over chickens at homes

tflach@thestate.comApril 22, 2013 

A proposal to allow West Columbia homeowners to raise a few chickens might not fly.

Some city leaders are concerned that the idea will produce as many feuds among neighbors as it will eggs, because keeping the birds can be messy.

“The jury is still out,” Mayor Joe Owens said. “It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.”

More than 4,100 of the city’s 5,100 homes appear eligible to keep chickens, city planning director Brian Carter estimates.

By his count, 18 neighborhoods ban livestock while yards in others lack enough space for coops.

Guidelines that Carter suggested to city leaders for raising chickens at residences include:

• A maximum of four hens, with no roosters.

• Coops and runs can be only in backyards, located at least 25 feet from property borders. They must be enclosed and screened.

• Sanitation requirements to prevent odors from being a nuisance.

• A $20 inspection fee to assure the facility meets standards.

The plan is similar to guidelines in other Midlands communities that allow residents to keep chickens.

City Council members are considering the proposal, but Owens is apprehensive about creating many problems for an idea he predicts only a few residents would use.

Taking care of chickens is a task that Owens experienced as a youngster more than 60 years ago.

“Personally, I’d rather buy eggs than clean up a coop,” he said.

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