Baytown Texas ordinance change, distance from coop to neighbors residences doubled.

jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
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85
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So I went online to copy the ordinance for a neighbor who wanted to start out with chickens and discovered that our City Council voted to change the ordinance regarding keeping chickens back in August, doubling the minimum distance from the coop to any neighboring residential structure from 100ft to 200ft and also imposing a restriction on the amount of chickens a person can have on their property depending on size using some convoluted "points" system. The restriction on the size of the flock doesn't affect me, under the new law I'm allowed a max of 5 and I only have 4, but the distance restriction puts me in violation for sure, because although there's a good part of my backyard more than 100feet from the walls of all 3 of my neighbor's homes, there is no part of my yard that's 200ft away.

I contacted the City of Baytown Legal Dept and they agreed that since I could prove that I had my chickens and coop in the backyard prior to August, that our property would be "grandfathered" under the old ordinance, and after I asked for it, they agreed to send me a letter on City letterhead stating that we're grandfathered and including with the letter a printed overhead shot of our lot with the area of the backyard more than 100ft from all neighbors homes outlined just in case someone decides to complain 10 years down the road. So that's the good news, that I don't have to get rid of my flock and can keep on keeping on. The bad news is that this pretty much means that no one in Baytown City Limits can have backyard chickens unless they have a lot size of one acre or more which means 99% of folks around here can't have them. Sucks, but it is what it is.
 

Chicken_loverXx

Songster
Mar 11, 2020
346
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Northern Ireland
So I went online to copy the ordinance for a neighbor who wanted to start out with chickens and discovered that our City Council voted to change the ordinance regarding keeping chickens back in August, doubling the minimum distance from the coop to any neighboring residential structure from 100ft to 200ft and also imposing a restriction on the amount of chickens a person can have on their property depending on size using some convoluted "points" system. The restriction on the size of the flock doesn't affect me, under the new law I'm allowed a max of 5 and I only have 4, but the distance restriction puts me in violation for sure, because although there's a good part of my backyard more than 100feet from the walls of all 3 of my neighbor's homes, there is no part of my yard that's 200ft away.

I contacted the City of Baytown Legal Dept and they agreed that since I could prove that I had my chickens and coop in the backyard prior to August, that our property would be "grandfathered" under the old ordinance, and after I asked for it, they agreed to send me a letter on City letterhead stating that we're grandfathered and including with the letter a printed overhead shot of our lot with the area of the backyard more than 100ft from all neighbors homes outlined just in case someone decides to complain 10 years down the road. So that's the good news, that I don't have to get rid of my flock and can keep on keeping on. The bad news is that this pretty much means that no one in Baytown City Limits can have backyard chickens unless they have a lot size of one acre or more which means 99% of folks around here can't have them. Sucks, but it is what it is.
Well it’s good that you get to keep your flock but that does suck about the other people that can’t have them 🙁
 

jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
41
85
66
Well it’s good that you get to keep your flock but that does suck about the other people that can’t have them 🙁

Yeah, I got mine before the COVID trouble, and one of my neighbors had them even before I did, but another got some this past summer after talking to me about mine. I had another neighbor asking about them and I was telling them that it was perfectly legal, I was copying the law in order to send it to them so they'd see exactly what it said, and that's when I noticed it had been changed. I can't figure why Council would change the law, especially since there hasn't been any public outcry against backyard chickens around here and a lot of folks really benefited from them back when our grocery stores were experiencing egg shortages. Oh well, it is what it is. I'm just glad to have that letter from the City.
 

rosemarythyme

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Very smart to make sure you got yourself grandfathered in, as things change and neighbors may come and go. Sucks for everyone else that might want chickens. 200' set back makes it nearly impossible for anyone to have a "backyard flock."
 

jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
41
85
66
Exactly. That's what I told the folks at the City when they said that they hadn't had any complaints about my property so they were wondering why I was asking. I told them that it isn't about now, but 10 years from now when new folks move in who aren't cool with chickens. Better to figure it out right now than to have to fight that fight 10 years from now with the new law having been on the books that whole time. It's a lot easier to prove now that I had that coop in the yard 3 months ago when the law was changed than to have to prove I had the coop before the change was made more than a decade from now.

I really don't see the need for the change. The law as-written was already pretty restrictive. Our house is on a 1/2 acre lot and that's about the minimum you'd need to have to be able to meet their 100 foot requirement and still have room to move around. The vast majority of folks around here don't have home lots that big as well as have those lots outside of neighborhoods with Neighborhood Associations that forbid chickens. With this 200ft change you'd basically have to be living on an acre or more and that's pretty much no one in town except for MAYBE a handful of people. I'm thinking maybe a councilperson had a neighbor get some chickens last Summer, went to Code Enforcement to turn them in, and found out that the law as-written allowed them to have them.
 

jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
41
85
66
Here's the law after the change, (BTW, I edited out the subsections not having to do with chickens).

Sec. 14-8. - Certain animals restricted.
(a)
Prohibited. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally or knowingly keep or maintain the following within the city limits:
(2)
Livestock, rabbits or fowl within 200 feet of a private residence the person has no right to occupy;
(3)
Livestock or fowl within 300 feet of a church, school, hospital or public place where food is sold or consumed

(b)

Restricted. The animals enumerated in subsection (b)(2) on property held, used or zoned for noncommercial purposes are permitted if the required number of animal points are accumulated. Animal points shall be calculated as follows:

Animal points calculation. The quantity of animals permitted on a property shall be determined on the basis of 50 animal points per vacant acre (e.g., 0.50 acres x 50 = 25 animal points; 1.45 acres x 50 = 72 animal points).
(2)
Animals permitted. Based upon the number of animal points calculated pursuant to subsection (b)(l) of this section, the following animals may be permitted on property held, used or zoned for noncommercial purposes if there is a sufficient number of cumulative animal points based upon the following:
EXPAND
���
Type of AnimalNumber of Points per Animal
Horse or cattle ..... 25
Sheep or goat ..... 10
Chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, rabbit and other small animal ..... 5

Exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to:
(6)
The raising or keeping of six or fewer chickens, excluding roosters, maintained in any pen, shed, coop, enclosed structure, or fenced yard, which is:
a.
Located at least 200 feet from a residential structure; and
b.
Maintained in such a manner as to not give off odors offensive to persons of ordinary sensibilities residing in the area, or breed or attract flies, mosquitoes or other noxious insects or rodents, or in any manner to endanger the public health, safety or welfare, or to create a public nuisance.
( Ord. No. 14,458 , § 2, 8-13-20)
 
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jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
41
85
66
and here's the law prior to August

- Certain animals restricted. (a) Offense. Under this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally or knowingly keep or maintain the following within the city limits: (1) One or more hogs, swine or pigs; (2) Livestock, rabbits or fowl within 100 feet of a private residence the person has no right to occupy; (3) Livestock or fowl within 300 feet of a church, school, hospital or public place where food is sold or consumed; (4) Any animal within a public place where food is sold or consumed, except assistance dogs which are permitted in such places under state law; (5) Any wild animal; or (6) Bees or beehives within 300 feet of a private residence the person has no right to occupy, a church, school, a day care, a nursing home, a hospital, a park or a public place. Running at large. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to allow or permit an animal owned or possessed by him, other than a cat, to run at large. Unreasonable noise. (a) Under this chapter it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally or knowingly own or possess an animal that causes unreasonable noise in a public place or in or near a private residence the person has no right to occupy. (b) In any prosecution authorized by this section, where proof is presented that the person was warned concerning the noise more than 24 hours preceding the offense by an animal control officer or police department, such person shall be presumed to have intentionally and knowingly committed the offense.
 

rosemarythyme

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With this 200ft change you'd basically have to be living on an acre or more and that's pretty much no one in town except for MAYBE a handful of people.

I'm on 4 acres but it's narrow, so with restrictions like this it'd be hard for me to meet a 200' setback from neighbors (plus a 300' setback from a church, one of my neighboring properties is a church!)

My setback is 10' from property line, that's it. A lot of people fudge even that, as I've seen small stables and some backyard coops placed very close to lot lines.

The point system kind of makes sense I suppose... though 5 chickens hardly adds up to 1 horse. I also have something similar to your point system however chickens and some other smaller animals (rabbits, ducks) are exempt from that.
 

jakedaniel

Chirping
Apr 4, 2020
41
85
66
Yeah, I didn’t think about the different shapes a property could be. Our 1/2 acre lot, as well as the lots of our neighbors, are rectangular, but not extremely so. I believe from memory that each lot is 220’ deep but I forget exactly how far each lot is across. Our lots were subdivided out in the late 30’s. Until Hurricane Carla and Alicia destroyed 90% of the subdivision ours was one of the nicest in town. Nowadays the 90% that was destroyed is a “Nature Center” and our last few remaining houses are all on dead-end streets that end at the “Nature Center” fence. When we moved in, our neighbor next door had chickens, had them for years. A lady at the end of our street had them too. Folks I talked to said that everybody had them back in the 40’s because the Feds were encouraging backyard chickens and gardening due to WW2 rationing. So for all those decades, no one had any problem with it here, yet now all of a sudden it’s a problem that Council needs to address?

I wonder if this is a reaction on the part of City Govt to the large numbers of folks who bought chickens because of the grocery shortages earlier in the year, or if it’s just that a Councilmember or a friend of theirs had a neighbor get chickens over the summer and isn’t happy about it? Either way, it is what it is.
 

Wolfie2

Songster
5 Years
Feb 23, 2016
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Baytown is booming as is all areas around Houston ( I am a few miles to the south. Same here). As new people move into the area, people who do not understand our traditions, the rules change. Gotta keep up with the proposals and fight the unjust proposals before they become laws. Easier to prevent the changes than change the new laws. I feel your pain even though I am outside city limits, This, I'm afraid, will also catch up with me in the near future. Stand your ground and push back!
 

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