Hens are currently permitted on agricultural properties of at least 1.95 acres in size, Director of Animal Services Jamey Cantrell said during a June 28 council meeting. Roosters are not allowed anywhere in the city.
Six members of the public spoke in favor of the draft ordinance. Adam Sablich, a founding member of the PlanoHens Action Team, said the city should look to its neighbors as examples of municipalities that successfully regulate the ownership of backyard hens.
“No one considers Dallas, Frisco or Richardson to be overrun with chickens,” he said.
Sablich said his organization has garnered the support of more than 1,000 individuals who believe owning backyard chickens is a fundamental property right. He said registration fees would help to offset the costs for animal control.
Animal Services took in 24 chickens between Oct. 1 and June 22, Cantrell said. Thirteen of the chickens were owner surrenders, while the remainder were at large. This is up significantly from fiscal year 2019-20, when the department took in 14 hens.
“Even though they are not legal in most parts of the city, we still deal with quite a few chickens on an annual basis,” he said.
The debate over backyard hens dates back to June 2020, when Cantrell presented an informational report on the potential impact of backyard hens. In September, council tabled the discussion until the 2021 budget season, largely due to the $68,000 impact of hiring an additional staff member in the Plano Animal Services department.
City Manager Mark Israelson clarified the new staff member’s duties would not be relegated to the regulation of backyard hens.
Cantrell said his staff is not in favor of a change to the current ordinance due to the expected workload increase related to at-large and surrendered chickens as well as neighbor complaints.
“I work for people who don't own pets just as much as I work for those who do own pets,” Cantrell said.
Mayor Pro Tem Kayci Prince and Council Member Anthony Ricciardelli spoke in favor of the draft ordinance, stating Plano should be in alignment with its neighboring cities.
“I don't want to see us put extra restrictions on a hen owner that we wouldn’t put on a dog or cat owner,” Prince said.
With unanimous support from council, staff will return with an ordinance for approval in the coming weeks, Israelson said.