Chickenkeeping in Spartanburg County

12/19 Update: Mr. Angelakis settled with his neighbors out of court: the chickens are going … but maybe he’ll give one to you if you ask?

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Spartanburg Chickens

Photo from the Herald Journal: "Tony Angelakis tends to the 30 chickens in the backyard of a home in Hillbrook Forest subdivision. The neighbors have filed a lawsuit against him to force him to remove the chickens from this location."

12/18 – Urban farming is on the upswing nationally, and that includes urban chicken farming as Newsweek noted last year:

Over the past few years, urban dwellers driven by the local-food movement, in cities from Seattle to Albuquerque, have flocked to the idea of small-scale backyard chicken farming—mostly for eggs, not meat—as a way of taking part in home-grown agriculture. This past year alone, grass-roots organizations in Missoula, Mont.; South Portland, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Ft. Collins, Colo., have successfully lobbied to overturn city ordinances outlawing backyard poultry farming, defined in these cities as egg farming, not slaughter. Ann Arbor now allows residents to own up to four chickens (with neighbors’ consent), while the other three cities have six-chicken limits, subject to various spacing and nuisance regulations.

The trend is real. This week, New York City announced it would permit beekeeping for the first time in decades.

So perhaps its not surprising that in a less urban area where lots of people garden, you’ll find people raising chickens.  There is no zoning here in Spartanburg  County.  You can burn your trash, raise goats or do pretty much whatever you want with your own property – at least as far as plants and animals are concerned.   You might think that locals would be a-ok with a little bit of poultry in the suburbs.  You’d be incorrect, according to this article in today’s Herald Journal:

Several residents of Harrell Drive, in the Hillbrook Forest subdivision, have filed a lawsuit alleging William Diangikies and Mary, Matthew and Tony Angelakis are violating neighborhood covenants and restrictions by allowing 30 chickens and a chicken coop to remain in the backyard of 276 Harrell Drive.

Tony Angelakis said no one has lived at the residence on the property since his grandmother died, and he purchased six chickens last year “as a hobby” and so his family could have eggs and meat. He now has 30 chickens and denies allegations that they smell and are a nuisance.

Although the article says otherwise, the City of Spartanburg code does permit agricultural structures for poultry, which condones ownership within city limits.  However, only “goats, chickens, etc.” already in the city and licensed as of January 1, 2009 may remain within the city limits, due to a new Animal Services Ordinance. The ordinance itself isn’t posted online.

Spartanburg County has no restrictions on livestock ownership. The only references in the county ordinances come under flood damage prevention and storm water management: structures used to house livestock and poultry are not exempt from the provisions.

The complaining neighbors may be on firmer ground if the court chooses to regard the chickens as pets. Though the defense will argue for the application of neighborhood covenants.  It would be too bad if Spartanburg County followed the city’s example and outlawed poultry keeping.

Spartanburg was ahead of the curve on urban poultry farming, but has dropped back with the change in the law.   I’m not sure what the city council was thinking, as the exclusionary ordinance was passed without any discussion in the media.  Probably, this is a barely-consciousattempt to conform with outdated notions of modernizing the town and another case of smoothing away the rough edges of a place.

Thirty chickens seems like a bit much, as does slaughtering the chickens on your property.   So what would be wrong with having two or three chickens per family member as laying hens?  Nothing.  But like as not the opportunity to establish some sensible zoning permitting urban poultry fell prey to an controlling need to prettify the town.

Maybe the city council will revisit the issue and reverse the outright prohibition on poultry.  With that in mind, and in the meantime, it would be interesting to know just what the council was thinking when it put the ban in place.

Links:

    Mother Earth News “Poultry” search.
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Posted on December 17, 2009, in regionalisms and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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