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County may scratch up an ordinance for chickens
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Chickens will be back on the table before Effingham County commissioners tonight.

Commissioners will have a first reading an ordinance amendment that would allow homeowners to keep up to four chickens in their yards.

“In the past year, year and a half, a number of people have asked about it,” said county zoning director George Shaw. “We’ve had people calling, asking if they could have chickens in their yards.”

Code enforcement officers have answered calls to homes where the residents already have chickens. Under the current R-1 zoning, homeowners are not allowed to keep chickens in their yards.

“Currently, you can’t have non-domesticated pets,” Shaw said. “You can have chickens in your house. But outdoor livestock is not allowed in the residential districts.”

Chickens, under the county guidelines, are considered livestock.

Under the proposed amendment, those living in R-1 zoning could have up to four chickens, but no roosters, and the chickens must be kept in an enclosed area in the backyard. The chickens also must be kept at least 30 feet from the nearest neighboring house.

While some of those asking for the amendment have mentioned the economy of keeping their own chickens, others requesting the change have mentioned food safety as their primary motivation.

“They like to know where their food is coming from,” Shaw said.

Also, having fresh eggs readily available has been offered as a reason for adopting the amendment.

Commissioners tabled the first reading at their Jan. 17 meeting. It will go into effect, if approved, upon a second reading, which could happen at the Feb. 21 meeting. Typically, commissioners conduct second readings of ordinances or amendments to ordinances at their first monthly meeting.