Salisbury neighborhoods could be going to the chickens

By a vote of 3-2, the Salisbury City Council decided Monday the proposed ordinance to permit chickens in city limits will be discussed  at a future legislative session.

Council President Jake Day and Councilmen Jack Heath, participating by phone call, and Tim Spies voted in favor. Councilwomen Shanie Shields and Laura Mitchell were opposed.

Resident Sarah Holcott told the City Council that, a few years ago, she learned she was allowed to have eight chickens in Salisbury, then a couple of years later, found the ordinance changed to not allow any chickens.

She spoke in favor of the animals as pets and said her 2-year-old daughter holds them and is learning to care for them. One of the benefits is that chickens eat mosquitoes and ticks, she said.

She said there’s a self-sustaining, homesteading movement across the country that involves keeping chickens.  A friend with her, also in favor, said chickens don’t make more of a mess than a dog or cat outdoors and are less noisy than dogs.

Another resident said he’s raised chickens in the past and found them enjoyable, especially since they feed on mosquitoes. He said a lot of other towns allow chickens.

A police officer, who was at the meeting with Police Chief Barbara Duncan and the animal control officer, said the humane society does not have resources to regulate chickens.

Mitchell said their regulation concerns her. Also, she’s concerned about diseases being spread to humans. She said property owners should have freedom to do what they’d like on their property, but irritated neighbors will be “a thorn in the side” to chicken owners.

She said she doesn’t support the ordinance, and that fresh eggs can be purchased in the area without having to own chickens. She does support growing vegetables and herbs, she said.

“Rosemary doesn’t make noise. Eggplant doesn’t make noise. Chickens make noise and they draw undesirables. For that reason, I don’t  support it,” she said about the ordinance.

Heath said he is in support  and light-heartedly warned fellow council members his next statements would be sarcastic. He told Shields she needn’t worry because chickens don’t bite. She said she knows that, because she raised them as a child. Heath also said chickens would be easier to control than some children.

“And now what’s your sarcastic comment?” Day joked.

“I rest my case,” Heath said.

Shields said she’s concerned about raccoons and vermin chickens attract, as well as controlling them, thus putting additional stress on animal control.

“This is not the most pressing issue we will discuss today, or probably this year,” Day said, “but this is a step in the right direction for our community and for building a sustainable, livable economy.”

He called it “a good thing for connecting the people of Salisbury to the rural community.”

“The greatest concerns here are human and animal welfare and then the stresses on our staff and not making Animal Control’s job more difficult. That’s why the ordinance must be explicit. My opinion is that, it’s for the better and there may be challenges along the way,” Day said.

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