Hens must now roost elsewhere, and new residential built-upon area will be limited to 45-percent of lot size, Oak Island Town Council decided Tuesday.

Council acted on the question of whether to allow pet chickens, which has been on the agenda for months. It also held the second of two public hearings on whether to restrict the total size of buildings relative to the size of the lot.

Council also honored dog park volunteers, made subtle but important changes to the built-upon area (BUA) rule and heard comments and questions from speakers during a Town Hall-type meeting.

No one spoke at a public hearing on whether to allow keeping a handful of hens within the town limits under conditions outlining sanitation, noise, fencing and other factors. Previously, several residents asked council to allow only female chickens, like some other coastal communities.

Town Planner Jake Vares said there were many options, including whether to consider total lot size and zoning classifications. Staff offered draft ordinances that could have allowed keeping hens and defined which animals were not allowed, such as venomous reptiles or hooved creatures.

Council Member Loman Scott moved to allow backyard chickens, but other council members voted him down 4-1, with Charlie Blalock, Sheila Bell, Jeff Winecoff and John Bach in the majority.

Winecoff said he had mixed thoughts on the issue and noted Boiling Spring Lakes recently denied keeping hens. Bach said he continued to believe that keeping chickens was inconsistent with the vision of most residents. It could also be a “slippery slope” for other animals, he suggested.

Impervious surfaces

At least the third attempt to impose limits on impervious surfaces for residences found favor with council. The limit is 45-percent, with detailed exceptions for engineered surfaces or slatted boardwalks, for example. Many coastal communities and state stormwater permits impose limits and buffer zones. Depending on the zoning, neighboring Caswell Beach allows BUA of up to 36-percent. Most lots there, however, are larger than in Oak Island.

Builder Kevin Tittle said the proposal felt “like a knee-jerk reaction” to Hurricane Florence and record-breaking rains last year. He complained that older homes don’t have the rainwater infiltration systems currently required.

Bach questioned whether the 45-percent number was sufficient. He also asked council to make the standard different for rebuilding, versus redevelopment. Owners who have suffered disaster damage should be able to rebuild the same footprint, he said. Those tearing down structures for new ones must follow the new standards, he said. The change was incorporated.

Council also honored Paul and Denise Beyer for their work with the Salty Dog Park at Bill Smith Park. More than a dozen people have volunteered to assist with future maintenance, and council voted unanimously to formally take over operations of the park.

Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Chairman Dennis Maneri said the park would turn over $3,000 in remaining funds for the town’s use.

Several residents asked questions and commented to council (See Facebook and the July 17 edition for details).