HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Council passed first reading of an ordinance at Tuesday's meeting that would allow for the raising and handling of chickens in residential zoning districts if a board deems it acceptable.
The initial reading was approved on an 8-to-4 vote.
If the ordinance passes two more readings and becomes policy, those who want to raise chickens would submit their application, along with a $200 fee, to the county's zoning board of appeals.
That $200 fee would go toward taking out a newspaper advertisement notifying residents of a public comment period, and notification of the applicant's neighbors.
After that public comment period, the board would make their final ruling.
David Schwerd, with Horry County Planning and Zoning, said the proposed ordinance came about after a resident said their son had special dietary needs, and the family wanted to raise chickens to help with those needs.
The council's vote on first reading came after a lengthy discussion period that included two amendments being knocked down and an admonishment by the council chairman, who said the body was not taking the issue seriously.
That first proposed amendment came from Councilman Paul Prince, who made a motion that the $200 fee be reduced to $50.
He said he didn't want the county to put a burden on those who want to have chickens, and there was enough in the budget to cover the majority of the fee needed for public notice.
Prince's motion failed on a vote of five in favor and seven opposed.
Councilman Harold Worley then made a motion to have the ordinance include not just chickens, but goats, horses and any other type of what was referred to as "domesticated farm animals."
A few audible laughs were heard following Worley's motion.
Councilman Cam Crawford asked if the body could expand the amendment and add non-domesticated animals as well, such as Sasquatch.
"We're starting to make a joke out of something that's very serious here," said Chairman Mark Lazarus. "Let's don't make a mockery of this thing."
Worley's motion failed on a 10-to-2 vote.
"I just think we're opening Pandora's box here," Worley said of the main ordinance.
When the ordinance comes up for second reading, it will also include public comment.
"If you're not here for the next two (readings), I would tune in," Lazarus said.