The chickens are coming home to roost in Allen.

Following months of petitioning from residents, the Allen City Council on Tuesday amended a city ordinance to allow residents to keep up to four backyard chickens 20 feet from adjacent property lines.

Prior to the amendment, backyard chickens were allowed, but coops had to be kept 150 feet away from neighboring property lines, thus making it an unlikely possibility for most lots in Allen.

Allen resident Amber Pizano was a vocal proponent of vetting for an amendment that would enable the average homeowner to have chickens in their yards.

She and other residents started a petition more than a year ago. As an “urban yuppie hippie” who has eaten all-organic food since the day she became pregnant seven years ago, Pizano said chickens were the next natural step for a family who composts, maintains a garden and is getting solar panels installed on their home. 

“We just wanted a little coop in our backyard so our kids could see the food chain,” she said.

According to Lee Battle, the city’s assistant director of planning and development, city staff began researching surrounding cities’ ordinances concerning backyard chickens and problems that can arise from allowing them. A draft ordinance went before the council for consideration at a recent workshop. Battle also heard feedback from residents.

An ordinance that would allow up to six hens with a 10-foot setback from adjacent property lines was initially presented to the council Tuesday night, but following about 20 minutes of debate, new rules were adopted.

The new ordinance will allow up to four hens to be kept in a coop or other type of enclosure that must be kept 20 feet away from the homeowner’s property line. Battle said cities typically permit hens but not roosters because roosters’ crowing presents a noise issue.

Battle said he was no more concerned with chickens becoming a nuisance than he is with the issues that dogs or other animals present if not cared for properly.

“It’ll come down to people doing what they’re supposed to,” he said. “The city will have the tools in place that we need to have to address those situations when they occur. That’s part of what the ordinance is about: when there is a problem, being able to address it.”

Residents are required to obtain a one-time permit to have chickens in their backyards. The council will determine the cost for a permit at a future date yet to be determined. The city will provide residents with information at that time pertaining to rules for keeping the animals. Residents must apply for a permit and provide documentation of their current homeowner association policies and deed restrictions before adding coops or enclosures.

“It’s the fruition of a lot of people’s efforts and support,” Pizano said. 

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