Austin, TX: 8/26 meeting for Proposed changes to LOWER the fowl setback lines

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by Austin Peeps, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Austin Peeps

    Austin Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 6, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Currently, the City of Austin ordinances allow for raising chickens (hens and roosters) but 2+ chickens must be kept in an enclosure at least 50 feet from the neighboring residence.

    Changes being considered to Austin’s ordinances for keeping fowl are now under review. If passed, the setback for keeping 2+ poultry could be reduced:
    * from 50 feet to 20 feet for 2-10 birds
    * and from 50 feet to 40 feet for 11+ birds.

    The City of Austin’s Sustainable Food Policy Board (SFPB) will meet to review this and other items on 8/26. Please consider sending input to the City of Austin's SFPB, Planning Commission, and City Council and also, if able, attending the 8/26 SFPB meeting from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. at City Hall.

    Austin resident or not, you can express your input for this matter by the means noted below.

    These proposed changes came about as part of proposals for the CoA Urban Farm Code.

    REQUEST:
    If this matter is of interest to you, please write prior to 8/26 to the Sustainable Food Policy Board, the Planning Commission, and the City Council with your opinion on the proposed changes to 3-2-16. If you can't write before 8/26, please write as soon as you are able.

    PROPOSED CHANGES:

    Here is how the ***proposed*** changes read:
    § 3-2-16 ENCLOSURE FOR FOWL.

    An enclosure used to keep two or more two to 10 fowl must be located at least 20 feet from a residence or business, excluding the residence or business of the fowl’s owner or handler. An enclosure used to keep more than 10 fowl must be located at least 40 feet from a residence or business, excluding the residence or business of the fowl’s owner or handler.

    COA STAFF REVIEW CONCERNS ON PROPOSED CHANGES:

    The CoA staff reviewed the proposal and noted, "this revision [the above proposed changes to 3-2-16] dramatically reduces the setback for fowl from 50' to as little as 20' (60% reduction). EHSD receives numerous complaints every year from citizens regarding the odors, sanitary conditions and noise from chickens and other fowl. Reducing the existing setback distances will increase the number of complaints and neighbors will have no ability to create a separation from their own home and a neighbor's chickens.

    These animal enclosure setbacks are intended to protect the rights and quality of life of neighboring property owners and should not be reduced without good cause.

    REQUEST SPECIFICS:

    The CoA Staff concerns are on odor, noise, and sanitary conditions.

    It would help SFPB, Planning Commission, and City Council to understand how you can keep your flocks in compliance, sanitary, and odor free (and not incessantly noisy) and any other thoughts you'd like to share with them on 3-2-16. A short letter/email with supporting photos or video links if appropriate - and if your coop is in compliance of course! - would also provide additional aid.

    Likewise, if you have an opinion that is not in favor of the changes, you can express those, too.

    UPCOMING MEETINGS:

    The SFPB meets on 8/26 from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m at:
    CITY HALL, BOARDS & COMMISSION ROOM, FIRST FLOOR 301 W. SECOND STREET
    AUSTIN, TEXAS, 78701

    The agenda and supporting documents are under the 8/26 meeting at:
    http://www.austintexa...

    You can sign up sometime before the meeting starts to speak to an item on the agenda. It sounds like the signup starts roughly between noon and the meeting time. People can speak in the order they signed up to speak.

    Come out and also share your thoughts in person if you can.

    SENDING COMMUNICATION TO SFPB, PLANNING COMMISSION, AND CITY COUNCIL:

    SFPB Board Members emails are at: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/boards/results.cfm?bid=100151

    and are listed below for convenience:
    [email protected],
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected],
    [email protected] ,
    [email protected]

    Planning Commission member emails are at:
    http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/boards/results.cfm?bid=43

    and are listed below for convenience:
    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

    City Council emails are at:
    http://austintexas.gov/department/austin-city-council-members

    To send to all City Council members, go to: http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  2. Studio2770

    Studio2770 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2013
    Wow, I live about 30 minutes south of Austin and in my neighborhood/city, NO poultry are allowed. [​IMG][​IMG] WHAT?! A city has more chicken friendly ordinances than a neighborhood!? I can't have any here but I can have a hen and rooster in a city?! I got a letter, and I'm gonna fight the council.
     
  3. Austin Peeps

    Austin Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 6, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Even though the City of Austin allows chickens, there are still HOAs and/or other property restrictions in some parts of Austin that don't allow them. The property restrictions trump city ordinances :( I wish you luck on overturning ordinances.

    Btw, here is the correct link for the 8/26 SFPB agenda: http://www.austintexas.gov/cityclerk/boards_commissions/meetings/47_1.htm

    I know BYC will have great resources for ordinances. Another good resource for changing ordinances is at: http://www.chicken-revolution.com .

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  4. Austin Peeps

    Austin Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 6, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Someone asked on another forum for a sample letter, so here is one. Please feel free to customize to your situation and viewpoint:


    Here is a sample letter supporting the changes. Please customize to your wording to your viewpoint and situation.

    Dear <<Board/Council Name Here>> members:

    I support and commend the proposed ordinance changes to modify 3-2-16 of Austin’s ordinances to lower the setback for fowl to between 20 and 40 feet. People are interested in raising their own food at home, and the proposed changes, if passed, will allow more individuals interested in raising poultry to do so. This will support local economy further directly with increased sales of poultry feed, and lumber and hardware supplies for housing. It also indirectly increases the awareness of local food producers and sustainable practices, further promoting local community and economy.

    I have raised backyard chickens for close to [# years here] years and have never had any issues with odors or excessive noise from my flock [or whatever your case/experience is]. The key for raising any animal is responsible pet ownership. Chickens do not inherently smell. Odor arises from wet, accumulated manure. Manure management is part of owning chickens, similar to dog owners having to pick up after their pets or cat owners having to regularly clean out the litter box. I follow best practices of having clean and dry litter, with regular manure removal from the chicken housing. Using pine shavings, leaf litter, sand, peat moss, and/or other materials keeps a coop odor free. Good ventilation, dry housing, and effective manure management not only eliminates odor but also helps keep chickens healthy and promotes proper sanitation.

    Key points:
    • Odor arises from wet manure accumulated over time. Good ventilation and a strategic manure management program to dry and regularly remove manure eliminate the issue.
    • There are parallels with chicken upkeep similar to other pet upkeep of dog or cat manure maintenance programs.
    • Only 1/3 of chicken manure weight remains after evaporation of water and moisture.
    • Many coop designs support good ventilation and easy manure management.

    § 3-2-2 NOISY ANIMALS. An owner or handler may not keep an animal that makes frequent or long, continued noise that is disturbing to a person of normal sensibilities.

    Ordinance 3-2-2 addresses noise issues for noisy dogs, cats, fowl, or other animals. Chickens cannot generally be classified as “noisy”, any more than a dog that barks occasionally at a passer by is considered noisy. Chickens head to roost (sleep) shortly after dusk and do not become active until daylight.

    Thank you for your work to promote green and sustainable living in a responsible fashion.

    Sincerely,
    [Your name here]
     
  5. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2014
    Whatever happened with this?
     
  6. Studio2770

    Studio2770 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2013
    This isn't about Austin but my "city" is has been modifying the animal ordinance. Max of 7 hens, if you have more don't replace the ones that die, I think the height limit is 6 ft. Basic stuff, though, the height limit is bogus IMO because you can turn a shed into a coop and that's at least 7 ft. And we hope to raise the limit because, well we love chickens. We, along with 2 other houses own chickens, their may be more or considering getting chickens. We are close to the first public hearing.
     
  7. Austin Peeps

    Austin Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 6, 2010
    Austin, TX
    No changes at this time to the fowl ordinances in the city of Austin. However, always keep in mind, property restrictions, such as HOAs or other, can exist and restrict or prohibit poultry, even when they are allowed in city ordinances.

    More info on the background that led to this decision is at: http://www.meetup.com/AustinBackyardPoultry/messages/boards/thread/43133012
     
  8. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2014
    Thanks for the info!
     

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