SWANSBORO, ONSLOW COUNTY - Swansboro town commissioners passed an ordinance Tuesday night to allow chickens within the town limits.
The ordinance passed four to one, according to Town Manager David Harvell.
Swansboro residents wanted the ordinance to allow homeowners to keep chickens in their backyards for fresh eggs, meat or just as pets.
Some residents in the Swansboro town limits want to keep chickens. Now, it's in the town council's hands to decide.
Jacksonville already has an ordinance in place allowing residents within the town limits to keep chickens. There is no limit on how many chickens a person can own, as long as they aren't a nuisance, and as long as the owner isn't selling the eggs or meat.
Khristi Nunnally thinks everyone should have to opportunity to own chickens, if he wishes. Nunnally says she uses them for fresh eggs.
Nunnally wanted to keep chickens, which she lets free range in her back yard for a while each night, because of her concerns for how major poultry companies produce their chicken. She says many companies pack chickens into tiny cages, are kept in the dark and are even pumped with hormones.
"It's just like having a dog," Nunnally said. "They're not crammed into tiny cages like commercial chicken productions. They're healthy eggs from happy chickens."
Nunnally says her pet chickens help her family in more ways than just feeding them.
"You can compost their manure, you can use it in the garden," Nunnally said. "They will eat your leftover kitchen scraps, your garden scraps. The kids catch bugs and toss them in there. They walk around and get their own bugs, so they kind of help out in all of those aspects."
Just a short 20 miles away, Swansboro Town Manager David Harvell says some residents here now want the same benefits.
"It's a fairly intricate and complex decision to go through -- yes or no, enforce it, don't enforce it, how many, and it's typically a private property right issue also," Harvell said.
Town officials say if they allow residents to own chickens, there will more than likely be a limit of four to six, and no roosters.
Some who are against the idea of chicken keeping fear the smell and animals escaping would be an issue.
On Jan. 15, the town council members will discuss the pros and cons of backyard chickens. Staff will present how other towns and cities policies on this.
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