Plano residents can now raise chickens in their own backyards after the approval of a new city ordinance during the Sept. 27 council meeting.

Council members voted 7-1 in favor of allowing backyard hens.

Jamey Cantrell, director of Animal Services, said the ordinance had full support of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee after meeting with various city departments and local residents.

“We came to a compromise that I felt was a pretty good place for us to move forward with,” Cantrell said.

Nearby cities such as Dallas, Richardson and Frisco already allow backyard hens.

The ordinance states residents must be approved for a permit with the Animal Services Department before owning chickens. To get approved, an applicant must show proof of adequate chicken housing, have written authorization from the property owner, complete an educational course on backyard hen care and possibly comply with a home inspection.

The limit of 10 animals to a residence is still in effect, Cantrell said.

“If you have five dogs, you can't have more than five chickens,” he said.

The ordinance states roosters and other birds, such as peacocks and ducks, would still be prohibited within the city’s residential zones. Homeowners associations would still be allowed to forbid chickens in the neighborhoods they regulate, Cantrell said

Several residents attended the meeting to advocate in favor of allowing backyard chickens in Plano.

“Raising hens is no more foul than other animals,” said resident Amanda Massengale, in a pun-filled address to council. “Citizens should be allowed to make that choice with their families. Plano hens will be living in impeccable conditions.”

Council members praised Cantrell and his staff for their work on the ordinance that dates back to June 2020 when Cantrell presented an informational report on the potential impact backyard chickens could have on Animal Services operations.

Council Member Rick Grady voted as the sole opposition to the ordinance. He said the ordinance had been written well but having grown up around chickens on a farm, he could not support the proposed change.

“We talk about it as being a property right for 200 homeowners who would like chickens in their backyard, and forget all about 73,800 other homeowners that may not want to have chickens,” he said. “It is a waste of taxpayer money that we are doing on this. I know I am in the absolute minority here and I will lose all the poultry political votes on this issue.”

Council also passed a zoning change 7-1 in support of the new regulation.

The approved changes to the Animal Services ordinance can be seen here.