Durham, by reputation, is one of the more “crunchy” cities in the Triangle. But that reputation doesn’t necessarily correlate with ease of urban farming. Durham has virtually no regulations governing livestock on residential lots. So it might appear at first glance that Durham is pretty friendly to urban farmers. But when you start to unpack the ordinances that do apply to urban farmers, it looks a little bit different. There is one ordinance, in particular, that makes it nearly impossible to keep anything other than chickens on most residential lots.
In the City of Durham, all livestock must be kept in a corral or pen and those corrals or pens must observe a 50 foot setback from surrounding properties. You would probably need a lot that was at least 2 acres in order to be able to adhere to the setback requirements and still have some available land for the animals. This isn’t impossible to find but certainly not as easy as a 1/2 acre lot that would easily support a couple of milk goats. Like other municipalities, when keeping livestock or chickens you must comply with all subdivision restrictive covenants and HOA rules.
Because the lot dimensions are integral in whether you will be able to keep livestock on a Durham lot, in the listings below I have included properties up to 1.5 acres. But each one will need to be evaluated individually in order to determine whether it is acceptable for keeping livestock.
Durham does allow backyard chickens on most residential lots in the city. The regulations regarding keeping chickens can be found in section 5.4.12 of the Durham Unified Development Ordinance. These ordinances are much more extensive than in Raleigh, for example, and I strongly urge you to read the entire text before investing in backyard chickens.
The one ordinance that I find the most concerning is the requirement to get a neighbors permission before you are able to obtain a permit for your backyard hens. Because of this law, I cannot tell you absolutely whether you will be able to keep chickens on any lot that you purchase. If your neighbor doesn’t want you to have chickens, even if your subdivision allows it and you aren’t breaking any laws, they have the right to veto your request for a permit.