"City ordinances about keeping chickens vary widely across the state. In Cary, they're not allowed except on properties with more than an acre within the town's rural district. In Raleigh, chickens are so accepted that proud owners show off their backyard coops in a springtime tour called the Tour d'Coop.
In May, city officials recently voted to loosen Winston-Salem's ordinance. For $100, people who want chickens or pigeons but who don't have much land can now apply for a special-use permit through the city's planning office. The change was made to accommodate property owners recently annexed into the city. Their lots were too small under the city ordinance to keep poultry.
Without the permit, the ordinance requires a chicken coop to be placed at least 150 feet from all property lines. The average city lot is between 9,000 and 12,000 square feet -- too small to meet those requirements, said Kirk Ericson, a project planner with the city/county planning board. At a minimum, a property owner would need 22,500 square feet of land, or a little more than a half-acre, to make the setback. Practically speaking, a property owner would need more space for their house and, if they wanted chickens, a coop."