Weatherford Democrat

February 28, 2013

Chickens tabled by city council

Council members seek more info, public input on whether to allow hens in residential areas under certain circumstances


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH



Weatherford City Council members tabled an item Tuesday night allowing chickens kept in the city, wanting more public input on the subject.

Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes said the city had received a number of phone calls on keeping the animals, with many wanting to use the birds for organic eggs. In researching the item, she found a major urban chicken movement in cities across the Metroplex and around the country.

Under the proposal, no more than four hens could be kept per single family household, with no roosters, Enclosures must be no less than 50 feet from a neighbor’s property line and allow the birds to move around freely. Council member Jeff Robinson asked if approving the hens would create even more issues for animal control officers, who he felt were already “taxed.”

He said he had spoken with other residents who were against the idea.

“I’ve spoken with 15 residents about the idea and 14 of them were opposed to it and the other was neutral,” Robinson said. “I’m told that’s why (the residents) live in town, so they won’t have to deal with it.”

Robinson also questioned whether many residents even knew about the proposal, citing a Sunday Weatherford Democrat story as the only way the word would have gotten out.

“If that’s what the majority wants, then I won’t stand in their way, but I’d really like to have some more public comment on the issue,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he spoke with City Manager Jerry Blaisdell and suggested a stipulation where homeowners had at least 2 acres of land. Council member Heidi Wilder said many fences that residents have, including cyclone fencing, would not be enough to keep dogs from barking at the hens, which could become a noise issue.

“The average resident does not come to Weatherford to have chickens,” Wilder said.

Blaisdell said having any animal comes with a price and by bringing the proposal before the council, the city “was trying to meet the needs of our citizens.”

“You can’t raise a cow, goat or sheep for (Future Farmers of America) in the city limits, so this could be a way for more students to get involved,” Blaisdell said. “This will not overburden (animal control) by any stretch of the imagination.”

Council member Waymon Hamilton requested the item be tabled and also requested more citizen input, saying the 50 feet from property line rule would keep many homeowners in the city from having the hens to begin with.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy, who made the motion to table, agreed it would be “nice to have some public input on the public cackling,” The item is expected to be brought back at the council’s March 12 meeting.