Weatherford Democrat

April 25, 2013

Winging it

Divided council again tables yard hen proposal


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

The chicken battle rages on.

Weatherford City Council members Tuesday evening took no action on a proposal to allow chickens inside the city limits.

A decision on the proposed ordinance was delayed until at least June 7.

Resident Kathlynn Lyon has taken out a petition getting signatures to give more of an idea on how the public feels on the subject. Lyon, who took out the petitions April 8, has been going around the area getting signatures to allow the chickens.

Under city charter, Lyon has 60 days to return the petitions. The first meeting following the deadline is June 11.

Lyon said the response to the petitions has been “very enthusiastic.”

Mayor Dennis Hooks said he’d like to wait and see the results of Lyon’s petition before making a decision.

“I really don’t see the numbers to dictate a change in the ordinance,” Hooks said. “The response has been mixed.”

City Secretary Malinda Nowell said the city attempted to get input from residents via a number of outlets: an online poll, a radio show, signs at First Monday and City Hall. Of the 164 residents who voted, 90, or 55 percent, voted in favor of having the chickens while the other 45 percent said no.

Nine non-residents also voted, with eight being in favor, Nowell said.

Nowell said the sale of animals at First Monday began to pique interest in having chickens in the city limits. Under the proposed ordinance, up to three chickens and no roosters would be allowed. The area where the hens live must be at least 50 feet away from a property line, a shorter distance than many cities Weatherford looked at when crafting the ordinance allowed.

The council appears split on the measure with Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy and member Waymon Hamilton showing support with Heidi Wilder and Jeff Robinson stating their opposition.

Director of Management and Budget Chad Janicek gave a budget update at the halfway point of the 2013 budget year. He said the city’s general fund has received 57 percent of revenue and spent 49 percent of expenditures.

Property taxes continue to come in strong with an unexpected increase in fine revenue as well.

Janicek said February sales tax numbers were up nine percent from 2012. Sales tax revenue is up 2.6 percent for the budget year with hotel occupancy tax numbers increasing four percent from a year ago.