Georgetown City Council directed staff April 24 to draft an ordinance regulating chicken coops within the city limits.
The ordinance would allow for up to eight hens and would require a 20-foot setback of the coop from side and rear property lines. Coops would not be allowed at the front of properties.
The ordinance would also limit the types of hens allowed, prohibit roosters and require owners to provide written notice to the animal services director and a building permit or some type of review of coop construction and placement, according to a staff report presented to council.
The motion to direct staff was approved in a 4–3 vote, with Council members Tommy Gonzalez, Pat Berryman and Danny Meigs voting against.
City staff hosted a public meeting concerning urban farming Sept. 15, which approximately 80 residents attended. From that meeting, city staff created the report that was presented to council April 24 and recommended an ordinance that would allow more residents the opportunity to raise chickens in an urban setting.
Berryman said she was concerned allowing chickens could lower property values and be a nuisance to neighbors.
“I, too, grew up next to someone who raised hens,” Berryman said in reference to remarks from Councilwoman Patty Eason who spoke of growing up in San Antonio raising hens.
Berryman said the neighbor’s declining health led to poor care of the chickens, which led to odors and poor yard quality from chicken scratch.
“When they went to sell their house, it did impact their home values, which in turn impacted my parents' home value,” she said. “There are aftermaths; there are ramifications of this.”
Other council members argued that other cities, such as Austin, Round Rock and San Antonio, with similar ordinances had not experienced major issues.
The ordinance will also state that homeowners associations and neighborhood deed restrictions and covenants would supersede the ordinance, meaning if a neighborhood association had a rule against keeping chickens, the ordinance would not permit them.