Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Denton contemplates laws of residential chicken farming
Reworking the current ordinance would allow up to eight chickens per household.
DENTON Move over cats and dogs, a new flock of backyard pets might be coming to town.
The Denton City Council plans to vote in the next few weeks on a new ordinance that could rework the rules of chicken ownership at homes in the city.
The ordinance, if passed, would allow up to eight hens in a yard, and would reduce the current 150-foot limit between a coop and a neighbor’s yard to 50 feet.
No roosters will be allowed because of the animals’ noisy habits.
“The new ordinance is set up where it allows flexibility,” city councilman Dalton Gregory said. “If passed, we have coded enforcement and a police department to enforce the rules.”
Denton resident Dawn Paradise first proposed the ordinance in 2010. The Paradise household has always lived in an environmentally-friendly home setting.
Her backyard has a large, raised garden bed and fruit trees, and the possibility of homegrown organic eggs encouraged her to push for the new ordinance.
As for the noise concern, Paradise said her neighbor’s dogs bark much louder than chickens, sometimes at 3 a.m.
“The chickens eat bugs, weeds – and homegrown egg has a higher level of omega-3s, so they’re significantly healthier than store-bought,” she said. “The lifestyle of slaughterhouse chickens is abysmal for ethical and health reasons.”
Gregory said the new ordinance would require residents interested in chicken ownership to register with the city.
There won’t be any additional fees after registration, and the city will provide literature on keeping chicken odor to a minimum to be courteous to neighbors.
Corinth homeowner Sandra Johnson owns four hens. Growing up in Philadelphia where urban birds are a rare sight, she wasn’t initially warm to the idea of keeping hens in her backyard. Seven months after taking in the chickens, her opinion has changed completely.
Johnson said she doesn’t have to constantly feed the chickens because they eat weeds and bugs. Her kids and dog get along with the winged pets. The chickens clean themselves. The best part may be the chicken excrement, which doesn’t smell and fertilizes the lawn for free, she said. A day’s worth of her one dog’s waste is roughly equivalent to all of the chickens’ combined stools.
“Most importantly, there have been no noise complaints, and they wake up before 7:30 a.m. and sleep after 6:30 p.m.,” Johnson said.
Resident Sandy Walk has been living in Denton since 1999 and does not welcome the idea of urban chickens.
Walk said the chickens would create a raw smell and attract flies to a city that has enough of them. Even with restrictions, Walk said the idea still stunk.
“Not to mention that there are already wild coyotes and raccoons wandering in the area,” she said. “It’ll only attract more of them.”
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