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Chickens capture the attention of town leaders ahead of zoning changes

By Rex Hodge

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    SYLVA, North Carolina (WLOS) — You could say chickens are taking center stage in Sylva right now. They’ve become the focus of attention as town leaders prepare to make zoning changes.

The question leaders are facing right now is: Should chickens – a sizable amount – be allowed in the downtown business district?

Chickens and roosters have taken up residence at the Jackson Arts Market off Main Street.

“I just was looking around, there’s about 30, several roosters,” says Sylva Commissioner Ben Guiney.

He says their presence highlights the board’s impending actions updating town ordinances. Guiney says allowing chickens in the downtown business district is likely not going to be appropriate.

“I appreciate it, i’s very quaint and everything, but trying to kind of be a professional business area, it doesn’t quite fit,” he says.

“Hope to keep the ordinance the same,” says local artist, Josh Murch.

He wants the rules to stay put. If they change, he says folks wouldn’t be able to enjoy the chickens while visiting the Arts Market, especially on weekends.

“It would just be me getting rid of the chickens,” Murch says. “They wouldn’t be a part of town anymore and people wouldn’t be able to enjoy them or have an educational opportunity.”

It’s the kind of issue attracting plenty of attention.

“There’s a lot of social media activity,” says Guiney.

He says there’s a lot of misinformation and that the board is poised to make the change just for the downtown district where occasionally the chickens have escaped their fenced-in area.

“Not OK for the business. Right downtown is where we would not have any livestock, including chickens,” Guiney says.

He says chickens, about 10, are allowed within town limits.

“We encourage people to have backyard chickens,” Guiney says.

“People aren’t going to see chickens if they’re pushed out to a rural area,” Murch says.

Town leaders are ready to act.

“We’re ready, actually to approve the town ordinances,” says Guiney.

The Sylva town board meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10.

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