Chickens were a subject of debate during Tuesday evening’s preliminary City Council meeting in Plano.

The agricultural birds have been growing in demand in recent years, according to the city.

Animal Services Director Jamey Cantrell said Plano residents are only allowed to own chickens on agricultural land. For at least five years, many homeowners have voiced their desire to raise backyard chickens in the city. 

Cantrell, with the help of the city’s environmental health department, presented concerns for the spread of salmonella. He also nodded to the possible increase of wildlife and the overall cost to implement the ordinance. The estimated cost for the animal services department would be $75,587.

The cost is associated with a new position for animal services and a one-time cost of a commercial coop. 

“We do so much to try to prevent wildlife from coming into a neighborhood – that’s what our educational program is all about,” Cantrell said.

Council Member Shelby Williams showed support for moving forward with the discussion. 

"My feeling is that, especially in America, it’s not for us to seek for constituents to convince us to allow them something, rather require compelling evidence to forbid or disallow something.”

The benefits for backyard chickens in Plano were presented as an alternative to factory farming. But Cantrell said he remains wary of implementing the idea.

“I have to tell you my opinion is not significant public support for this,” he said.

Council Member Rick Grady used his farming roots to share his experience raising the animal. He said he was unsure if residents were aware of the complete cycle of raising the birds.

“I raised chickens. I can tell you from the get-go, this is not an easy task,” he said.

The council members ultimately decided to move forward with the discussion.

“Let’s just give it some thought before we come back to this,” Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said.

The council also voted to lower the speed limit of a portion of State Highway 121 after a recommendation from the Texas Transportation Department.  

From the city’s west limits to the highway’s intersection with Rasor Boulevard, drivers will be limited to 50 miles per hour instead of 55.

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