County near approval of backyard chickens

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Backyards in Clarendon County may be the scene of a coop after a vote in Clarendon County Council at the regular meeting Monday at the County Administration Building.

In response to what has been a bit of a fad in recent years, Clarendon County Council approved the second reading of an ordinance allowing county residents living in several planning code zones to have as many as four chickens for every 10,000 square feet of land in a parcel, or as many as 16 birds.

Chickens were already allowed in agricultural zones I and II.

You won't hear much crowing about the new ordinance, however, as male birds and roosters will not be allowed in non-agricultural areas.

The birds must be kept in enclosures from which they cannot escape, located at least 50 feet from a residential structure not owned by the bird owner and 15 feet from the property line. Coops must not be visible from adjoining residential property or from a public right of way or street.

Any slaughtering of the chickens must be done in an enclosed area and out of view.

The ordinance says chickens must not be raised for commercial purposes and eggs laid by the chickens must not be sold.

In other news, council considered a request to purchase $5,000 of cold mix asphalt for use in road repair materials.

County Administrator David Epperson explained the cold mix asphalt is used to fix potholes, especially in places where the original hot mix used to repave roads is of poor quality. He said the quality of the hot mix the county purchases can vary widely.

"There are good loads, and there are bad loads," he said.

The purchase was approved by council.

Epperson also updated council on the effects of a recent agreement between the South Carolina Department of Revenue and Farmers Telephone Co., which would allow the company to recoup taxes paid in non-incorporated areas between 2010 and 2015.

He said the county may have to reduce services to repay the money.

The agreement would also reduce the county's bonding capacity and the value of a mill, he said. Epperson also said the agreement would affect school districts and fire districts.

Since the meeting, Clarendon County has reportedly joined several other affected counties, including Sumter County, in hiring a law firm to contest the agreement.

Council also voted to approve the appointment of Shanna Morgan to the Harvin Clarendon Library Board of Trustees.