HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Following some spirited discussion, the second reading of an ordinance pertaining to the raising of chickens in Horry County residential districts failed on a tied vote.
When the Horry County Council voted following comments from the public and the council, the vote came out to six for and six against.
The proposed ordinance, which would have given those with a special request regarding the raising of chickens the avenue to appeal to the zoning board, was something that was personal for local resident Whitney Craig.
Her 4-year-old is intolerant to many foods, something that has befuddled his doctors.
Craig, who spoke at Tuesday's meeting, said her son is intolerant to corn and can't eat eggs laid by corn-fed chickens.
Previously, she raised her own chickens to help accommodate her son's dietary needs, but got rid of them after neighbors complained to the county and police.
"It's not about the luxury of having chickens," Craig told the council. "It is about my child's diet."
Councilman Al Allen said "there are always other alternatives," and didn't think the council should put the extra burden on the county staff to rewrite the ordinance and then enforce something they don't have the time for.
"We need to move on. We need to address the business of the people," Allen said. "We have people dying of heroin overdoses and we're here talking about chickens."
A few times during the council members' comments, Chairman Mark Lazarus had to bang his gavel after remarks were shouted from the audience.
Wanda Harlin, who also spoke during public comment, said chickens are not domesticated animals and can't live in homes and be taught tricks like dogs.
She added she felt the raising of chickens in residential areas devalues the property, and that the county would have difficulty enforcing the ordinance if someone were to violate the provisions of it.
"You can't enforce what's on the books now," Harlin said. "How are you going to enforce anything new?"
Councilman Johnny Vaught pointed out that the proposed ordinance simply gave people the opportunity to appeal to the zoning board, and did not give residents "blanket permission" to raise the animals.
"This ordinance does not put chickens in everybody's backyards," Vaught said.