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Roosters part of Camden’s heritage

Posted: December 2, 2013 3:41 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2013 5:00 a.m.

This is a copy of my letter to the Camden Planning Commission and to Camden City Council. I have had many phone calls from people concerned about this proposed ordinance, as well as calls from my neighbors supporting my having roosters. I have been advised that I am grandfathered, but more restrictive covenants, and zoning ordinances are not the answer for Camden. Any noise nuisance noise cases should be handled on an individual basis, whether they are due to barking dogs, loud music, or roosters.

I strongly urge the members of the city planning commission to reconsider their proposal to ban roosters in the city of Camden. Chickens have been a part of Camden’s heritage for over a century. Mrs. Marion DuPont Scott kept many chickens at Holly Hedge for years, and many, many horse people arrived with their birds every year. The city of Georgetown has a flock of chickens right in the heart of the prime residential district, downtown. The flock is loved, and protected by all. Aiken and Southern Pines also have numbers of chickens in their residential areas.

There is now tremendous interest in keeping poultry for eggs for home consumption that are free from hormones, and come from healthy, free range birds, not caged layers. Many cities have revised their ordinances to allow poultry keeping, including roosters, to meet the demand. The 4-H clubs have many more children now enrolled in poultry keeping also. There is a website called Backyard Chickens, that has thousands of users every day, dedicated to helping educate people about poultry.

I have bred, and shown chickens for over 50 years. I am a life member of the American Bantam Association, as well as a master exhibitor. I am also a former Georgia state director of the American Poultry Association.

I have kept show poultry here in Camden, at my home, for over 23 years. I have never had one complaint about my roosters, or hens creating noise, or any other nuisance. My birds make far less daytime noise than the weed trimmers and blowers, routinely used by my neighbors. My neighbors enjoy eggs on a regular basis. The chickens have eradicated virtually all the snakes and bugs from my yard as well. My birds are securely locked up at night to protect them from the numbers of loose domestic dogs, coyotes, and raccoons that prowl this city at night.

Rooster crowing is activated by light. It is not normal for roosters to crow in the dark of night. Any roosters crowing at night must be exposed to a street lamp, or other light source. Night crowing is a management problem that can be prevented by simply locking birds up at night, and letting them out in the morning. If neighbors complain about night crowing, the poultry owner can take steps to prevent it. I will be glad to show anyone what to do.

To summarily ban roosters is not fair to the responsible owners. Will the commission next ban all dogs from the city, due to a few dogs who bark at night? What about banning the numerous trains that blow their whistles at night? The predecessors to this commission enacted zoning laws that effectively ran most of the horses, and their owners, out of this city.

Where once there were many horses living in town, now there are only a handful at grandfathered residences, yet the city now uses the brand of “Horses, History, and Hospitality.” Something to think about, if this city wants to attract new residents who are interested in this brand. If this city continues to enact more restrictive zoning, the cities of Southern Pines and Aiken will continue to grow, while Camden loses population.

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