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Fri, Jun. 5th, 2009, 11:39 am
Plano needs urban chickens

Dear Mayor Phil Dyer, City Manager Thomas Muehlenbeck, and the members of the Plano City Council,

I live in a house in Plano with my boyfriend Geoff and his brother Jon.  We are all pretty frugal people who like to create things on our own instead of buying them if possible-- especially in today's economy-- and so Jon has started a lovely garden in the backyard.  It's wonderful-- we now have tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for cooking.  After some discussion we decided that it would be a wonderful idea if we could have a chicken coop as well, so as to produce our own eggs (well, strictly speaking we would let the chickens do that).  Jon works for North Haven Gardens in Dallas, which sells chicken coops as well as chickens themselves, who have been raised at Bagienice Farms out in Poetry, Texas (near Terrell).  General manager of North Haven Gardens Leslie Halleck has recently acquired several chickens herself, and even has a blog documenting her experiences with them.  The Dallas Observor did a story about her, and she was also mentioned in the New York Times.

I immediately began researching chicken breeds, and found several available which would be friendly, good egg producers, and thrive in the North Texas weather.  We thought "Great!  We can join the ';urban chicken' movement sweeping the nation! Chicken manure is excellent fertilizer for gardens, chickens eat common pests such as roaches, aphids, and grubs, and we could have some very cute pets for years to come.  If keeping chickens is legal in Fort Worth and Dallas, then surely it is in Plano as well.....right?" 

Well.....apparently not.  I got on the phone with Plano Animal Services this morning, and was informed that chickens are considered livestock and therefore are not allowed as pets within the Plano city limits.  Just to be sure, I found the Plano city code online, which appeared to confirm what she'd said.  Chapter 4, section 4-22 reads " It shall be unlawful to own or keep chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, peacocks, or guineas within the corporate limits of the city, except in agricultural zoned districts, lakes, and public park lands.'

Members of the City Council, I would ask you to re-think this regulation.  I can see why having roosters within city limits would be annoying and not sound like an attractive idea, but chickens themselves are quite quiet-- certainly moreso than most of the dogs who live in my neighborhood-- and given a nice coop to call their own, they can live out a very happy life in someone's backyard.   I don't expect you to take my word for it, so I have included several links in this email which I hope you will follow to learn more about how much sense it makes to keep "urban chickens."  The members of our household would feel so much better eating eggs that come from chickens that we know have received excellent care, since we have provided it ourselves.  I know we're far from the only ones who feel that way.

Thanks very much for taking the time to consider these thoughts. 

Best,

Gretchen

Fri, Jun. 5th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
litch

Fri, Jun. 5th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
shemom

Another possible tactic is to get your place zoned an agricultural district. It would be interesting to find out if, in fact, there are agricultural zoned districts within the city limits. If so, how did they get that designation?

Fri, Jun. 5th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
kittenhead

That's a good question, and maybe something I could use considering that less than five miles away there are businesses with fields where they farm longhorn cattle and bison because they get a tax break for it. Plano is a weird city that way-- you have a shopping mall and then the next lot over there are horses and wheat fields.