Stallings cries foul over urban chickens' A mother's request for a zoning change for 3 pet hens prompts concerns of feathered influx in town. By Marty Minchin Special Correspondent Posted: Sunday, May. 17, 2009 The three Walker boys and their chickens: (from left), Anthony, 6; Isaac, 10; and Alec, 9. Mother Neva Walker says she next will apply for a zoning variance to allow the chickens to stay. COURTESY OF NEVA WALKER STALLINGS Three pet chickens may have to find a new place to roost after the Stallings Town Council affirmed last week that fowl can't live in neighborhoods. In November, Isaac, Alec and Anthony Walker ages 10, 9 and 6 petitioned the town to allow them to keep the pet chickens they received at Easter 2008. Neva Walker, their mother, had learned that keeping chickens violated a town ordinance and told them they had to either give up the birds or ask the Town Council to change the rules. The council took up the issue last Monday. Current town rules require residents to live on lots two acres or larger to keep farm animals. Town planners offered an amended ordinance that would allow chickens on lots about a half-acre or larger. But the town staff did not support the change. A small group of residents, most from Curry Place near the Walker home, attended the meeting to protest urban chickens. They said they were worried that an ordinance change would allow chickens in their neighborhood. This is a health hazard, Joyce Hartis, who lives on Curry Way, told the Town Council. Chickens are disease-carrying animals. If they're in a coop, the smell will be terrible. She presented the council with a petition of almost 60 signatures from neighbors opposed to urban chickens. She also said that Stallings has had cockfighting problems in the past and that people could get mites from chickens. Most towns have rules governing pets and livestock. Nearby Indian Trail, for example, doesn't allow livestock in most residential areas, limiting it to the rural, single-family residential district that includes areas with large lots, limited public services or utilities and agricultural activities. Council members briefly discussed the issue before voting 5-1 to keep the town's current restrictions. Council member Renee Hartis was the lone dissenting vote. I was very sympathetic to this child having chickens, but I had not thought over all these other aspects, said council member Barbara Anne Price. We would be removing protections (town residents) were expecting. Neva Walker aid she and her sons did not know the issue would be discussed Monday and thus did not attend the town meeting. She said Wednesday that her sons still have their four hens and have grown quite attached to them. She said she spoke with Stallings officials on Wednesday, and she plans to apply for a variance that would allow her sons to keep the chickens. If we have to, we'll fight again, Walker said. She asks anyone who would like to support the quest to keep the chickens to e-mail the family at [email protected].