Resident Rebecca Visconti presented to the Coppell City Council on Tuesday why the city should allow residents to keep backyard hens.
According to Deputy City Secretary Ashley Owens, requests regarding livestock are few and far between. She said this is the first request to amend the city ordinance to allow backyard chickens that the council has seen.
Visconti presented the benefits of raising backyard hens to the council, addressing factors including educational values to children, nutritional value, its benefits during a shortage in food staples, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, asset in reducing food waste and their ability to control pest populations in Coppell.
“There’s nothing more valuable to me than educating my children,” Visconti said. “Especially on food and where it comes from. Small children get very excited about growing their own food to eat, and it teaches them responsibility by them taking care of animals. They develop empathy for the animals they take care of.”
The request specifically asks that properties with lots less than 7,500 square feet be allowed up to four hens, while properties with lots measuring at 7,500 feet or more may be allowed up to six hens, provided that such hens remain in their enclosures. However, roosters would still remain prohibited due to noise concerns.
Visconti also requested that classes be offered by the city for those who wish to keep hens and volunteered to be an instructor in early development of those classes.
On May 16, Visconti started a petition to allow backyard chickens on Coppell’s Facebook group. By May 19, Visconti received 143 signatures in support of amending the ordinance. Visconti said the comments were predominantly in support of amending the ordinance, with few concerns.
“I also spoke to my neighbors, and there are a lot of families in my neighborhood with small children, who thought the idea was great,” Visconti said. “They said they would love for their kids to experience backyard chickens.”
After the presentation, Councilman Gary Roden raised questions regarding possibility of attracting rodents. Visconti said rodents, in her experience, have never been an issue, and chickens tend to eat mice that wander into hen enclosures.
Mayor Karen Hunt asked about concerns regarding noise and odor that chickens could bring. Visconti said that both are not an issue, provided that a limited number is kept for each enclosure, proper maintenance is kept in residents’ yards who keep hens and roosters are not kept.
After the presentation, Hunt said that it would be under review.
“Our typical action would be to take it to work session, then go from there,” Hunt said.