Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to Backyard Chickens for Wake Forest!

Welcome to the Backyard Chickens for Wake Forest blog!

I hope you find information you're looking for here. We are a small group of Wake Forest citizens who are interested in helping Wake Forest join many of the more progressive cities and towns which recognize the need for a more sustainable urban landscape including household food production!
This journey all started when I decided to get some chickens for my backyard. I have been interested in chickens since I was a little girl. There was a family in my downtown Greensboro neighborhood who had some chickens in a large pen in their backyard. I used to sneak over while out playing with friends and watch the chickens. They were very entertaining! Even through the vine-covered fence we hid behind. Once I was married and had children, I didn't really think a lot about having chickens until I saw some on a few of the crafty blogs I read. I thought, 'If these folks can do it in a neighborhood, then I can too!'. I talked with my husband about it and after doing a lot of research, he agreed that it would be a great thing for our family, but that it was MY project, and up to me.
I found out from the town that there is a permit required when you live inside the town limits, and that you have to gain written permission from each neighbor within 500 feet of your property. Whew! This made me back up a second and think about it for a while. I am not a person to go talk to anyone I don't know... and I'm certainly not a person to go door-to-door asking complete strangers for their permission for something! I put the idea on hold, until I could get my plan together.

One evening, my family was out for a bike ride, and as usual, we headed down toward the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We like to ride there because it's relatively flat (easy on us while toting kids!), and it's nice scenery! On our way there, we rode by a house on the corner near the town park, and boy were we surprised to see what was in their yard! They had a beautiful Chicken Ark, made from oiled cedar, and in it was 2 Rhode Island Red chickens! Wow - we were impressed that they had them, and on our ride back home, we felt lucky to see some children in the yard. We stopped to ask them about their chickens, and eventually talked with their parents about them. We learned that they did go through the permit process, and it wasn't too bumpy of a road for them. This conversation gave me more determination to get the ball rolling on my own chicken endeavor.

Soon, I put together a flyer which detailed some of the questions my neighbors may have had about backyard chickens, and walked them around to each house which was within 500 feet of our property. I taped them right onto the door of each house, and waited a few days before I went back to collect the signatures. I also added a little 'info tube' to my mailbox post in case some homeowners would like to sign the paper and drop it off. I got a total of 9 'yeses' and 2 'nos' within the first week. Unfortunatly, once I got the 'no' answers, my plan had to be attacked from another angle. I decided to go to the town council to have the ordinance changed. I feel that chickens should be considered pets, not livestock in the town ordinance. Certain precautions should be made in order to insure the animals would be well taken care of and not be a neusance, of course. On this blog, I will chronicle the adventure of 'taking it to the town'. I hope you'll join with us and help make the dream of having backyard chickens easier for everyone.
More details to come!
In the meantime, please check the links section for details on my article on the web site, a link to the petition and proposal we're taking to the town council, and David and Mitzi Bissette's local Chicken Ark company, Catawba Convertible Coops!


Urban Hayseed said...

This is great, Em. That's the problem with something that requires the signatures of everyone within 500 feet(?!). It's easy for someone to just say 'no' for no particular reason. Is it really their business? In what way is your having chickens going to affect someone 475 feet away from your house?

Decently cared for chickens don't stink, they make little noise (certainly no more than a dog), and they provide all kinds of benefits in terms of education, nutrition, and quality of life.

If decent care is the problem, that's one thing that should be addressed in the permitting process. The arbitrary whims of your distant neighbors is quite another.

I wish you the best of luck. Even in Portland, there are lots of-- quite possibly most-- chicken raisers who go over the "three bird" limit or the "put your coop 50 ft. from any structure" rule. They generally don't have any problem, but these are some of those silly prohibitions that make law-breakers of otherwise exemplary citizens.

Good luck with your battle. Wish I could be of assistance.

Twinville said...

Good luck with your fight to own chickens in your urban neighborhood.

I really do hope it all works out in the end. And I hope you are more persistant and tenacious that we were.

We used to live in city with a population of 70,000 people. When we first asked Zoning if chickens were allowed they said, "Yes".

Then we decided to find out the actual rules regarding chickens, ie, how many, how far from residences, and were told to contact Animal Control.

Animal Control were pissed that the City Zoning said that chickens were permitted and told us that the entire city had ban on chickens and all livestock except horses in certain areas.
And if they caught anyone with chickens, they'd be confiscated and fined!

We wrote letters to the local newspapers, were interviewed, and talked to lots of people.
All to no avail.

We gave up the battle because our desire for chickens and other animals was too great, though.

We sold our suburban house and moved to the country last fall.

Best of luck and I'll be sure to check back here and cheer you on!