Board to consider smaller homes for hens

Feathers will fly in Flower Mound this Tuesday as the town’s Animal Services Board is expected to make a recommendation on a proposed ordinance amendment that would allow chickens on smaller lots.

Town leaders are considering amending the ordinance prohibiting chickens on lots less than an acre based on requests from several residents that want to keep a few pet hens in their backyards.

Citizens want chickens for a variety of reasons, according to Flower Mound resident Regina Fierke, who is involved with the group ‘Chicks 4 Flower Mound’.

“Fresh organic eggs, insect control, natural fertilizer, and entertainment are just some of the reasons people want chickens,” said Fierke.

“Hens are entertaining, have a lot personality, put themselves to bed at dusk, and provide a great breakfast in the morning,” according to Flower Mound resident Mark Glover who legally has them on his larger lot.

“And if you think chickens can’t be a pet then try telling my family that,” says Jennifer Paul, an 11-year Flower Mound resident.

“We love our chickens.  We love watching their different personalities, we love watching them scratch at the earth and eat bugs, we love collecting and eating the fresh eggs they graciously leave for us.”

The Paul family is raising chickens on a 20-acre property they are leasing for their cows.  “I’d love to move them to my backyard if the town would allow it.  Changing the ordinance is the right move for our town and will help to promote ‘Go Green Flower Mound’ and our continued dedication to offering a family friendly quality of life.”

The group ‘Chicks 4 Flower Mound’, has drafted a proposed backyard chicken ordinance for the keeping of backyard chickens in Flower Mound.

“Our proposed ordinance is the result of careful consideration of dozens of ordinances from other cities across America, direct experience of backyard chicken owners, and several research studies on owning backyard chickens”, according to Fierke.

“I became involved with ‘Chicks for Flower Mound’ after reading an article about the Fierke family losing their pet chickens,” said Paul.  “I think this group has come up with the best possible ordinance for our town after thoroughly researching other city ordinances all over the country.”

The proposed ordinance reads as follows:

Chapter 6 Animals, Article 8 Fowl, Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Sections 6-281 Enclosure Requirements

a) Fowl, rabbits and guinea pigs must be kept indoors, or if outdoors, in a secure pen or enclosure. Litter and droppings from these animals must be collected and disposed of in accordance with section 6-42; provided, however that the provisions of this section shall not apply to ducks or other waterfowl inhabiting natural or man made watercourses or bodies of water.

b) Poultry or chicken coops shall not be located closer than 20 feet of any neighboring residential dwelling.

c) Poultry may be kept on single-family residential lots in a fenced backyard at the ratio of three (3) hens on lots under 6000 square feet with an additional hen per additional 2,000 square feet of total lot area.

d) The following restrictions apply to the keeping of chickens on all residential properties:

1) The principal use of the property is a single-family residential dwelling.

2) Chickens must be kept in a manner that will not disturb the use and enjoyment of neighboring lots due to noise, odor, or other adverse     impacts.

3) On lots less than one acre, no person may keep a rooster.  Noise restrictions for chickens shall be in accordance with section 34-182.b.1.

4) Chickens must be kept securely in a chicken coop overnight. The coop must be enclosed, well-constructed, weather resistant, well-ventilated, predator resistant, well maintained and provide a     minimum of 2     square feet of area per chicken kept.

5) In addition to a chicken coop, an adjoining outdoor area sufficient to contain chickens on the owner’s property shall be provided allowing a minimum of 4 square feet of area per chicken kept. Chickens must be kept in a manner that they are not allowed to roam to neighboring properties, or to public right-of-ways, and in accordance with ordinance 6-45.

6) Chickens must be cared for in a humane manner with adequate feed, water, shade, and shelter at all times. Feed and water shall be kept in a manner so it is not available to wild birds, rodents or potential predators.

7) Litter and droppings must be disposed of, composted, or used as fertilizer in an environmentally responsible manner. It must not produce odors or unclean conditions and be in     compliance with ordinance section 6-44.

8) Portable coops (chicken tractors) are allowed, but must meet the requirements of permanent coops outlined above.

The Animal Services will hear more about the benefits and drawbacks of having backyard chickens at their meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.  The measure will be voted on by the Animal Services Board and then will have to be approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Council.

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