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‘Let the laying begin’
Backyard chicken ordinance adopted by Board of Commissioners

Backyard chickens made another and final reappearance before commissioners on Thursday, April 15 at the Board of Commissioners regular meeting.

Previously, this issue has seen attention from multiple county boards and concerned and supportive residents. One such resident, Dr. Amy Bartholomew, who has over 20 years of veterinary medicine experience, has been helping county staff amend and perfect the rules and regulations for owning backyard chickens in Forsyth County.

“[Chickens] really do make great pets,” Bartholomew said at a regular meeting held on Dec. 3, 2020. “And they’re a great learning tool … to stay connected to where our food comes from and agricultural production.”

Previously, commissioners have had reservations about the property setback regulations presented by staff. As presented to the board in December, chicken coops had to be located at least 15 feet from a rear property line, 20 feet from all side property lines and 50 feet from residential structures on all sides.

As presented to the board on Thursday, chicken coops must be placed at least 20 feet from rear and side property lines and 50 feet from residential structures on any adjacent properties.

Coops must also follow certain guidelines regarding shape and size to ensure that each flock has the space that it needs. Chicken flocks will not exceed eight chickens, and roosters are “strictly prohibited.”

 County staff also updated the districts that will be allowed to raise and keep backyard chickens. The new districts were amended based on the requirement of ½ acre of land to have backyard chickens. The districts are as follows:

  • Single family residential districts: R1, R2, Res1 and Res2
  • Single family residential restricted districts: R1R and R2r
  • Lake residential district: LR

The board voted to accept the ordinance with the understanding that neighborhood covenants and HOA regulations can supersede the ordinance and restrict residents from owning backyard chickens. The vote was unanimous with all five commissioners being in favor and District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent proclaiming, “Let the laying begin.”