3 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The City of Oklahoma City Council will hear a resolution sponsored by three council members Tuesday that, if eventually passed, would allow for limited backyard chicken flocks in the city limits.

Key points of the proposed ordinance change would hold flocks to no more than six chickens (or quail) with roosters not being allowed.

Current ordinances do not allow the practice although it is still done in parts of the City illegally.

Councilors Bradley Carter (Ward 1), JoBeth Hamon (Ward 6), and Nikki Nice (Ward 7) are submitting the resolution to the Council. If passed Tuesday, it would go to the Planning Commission for detailed work and consideration in light of the rest of the City’s land-use ordinances.

The Planning Commission will then send the resolution back to the City Council with recommendations.

In all, the process could take about a month or maybe longer.

Persistent interest

Hamon told Free Press that as soon as she was elected and since she has had regular inquiries into when the Council would take up the issue again. There have been cycles of interest in years past with proponents and opponents debating the issue in Council meetings.

Hamon said that there was a “bump in interest” during the pandemic when more people were at home all day and when growing concerns about the food supply began to rise.

“People are really passionate on both sides of the issue,” said Hamon. “And so I’m hoping that the way that we’ve written it can help maybe allay concerns.”

Hamon told us they structured the proposed changes to make sure that “animals are kept well” and would be “getting out and roaming the neighborhood, not having a lot of loose animals.”

Tuesday’s introduction will be the beginning and not the end of a process.

“So, there still is room for it to be amended,” Hamon said. “But, I’m hoping that if there are amendments it will just kind of be in that same spirit of making sure that people are being respectful of their neighbors and also finding that balance between living in an urban area having neighbors but also wanting to have this additional pet that currently isn’t allowed.”

Key points

The Municipal Counselor’s memo on the agenda gives this list of key elements to the proposed ordinance change:

  • Limiting the number of chickens or quail to 6
  • Prohibiting roosters
  • Requiring animals to be sheltered in a Coop and not inside a dwelling
  • Requiring Coops to have at least 4 square feet of space per animal
  • Requiring Coops to be located at least 5 feet from side and 10 feet from rear property lines and prohibiting animals or enclosures to be in front of the rear wall of the primary structure
  • Requiring Coops to be located at least 30 feet from any adjacent dwelling
  • Requiring animals to be kept inside Coop from dusk until dawn
  • Providing for unpaved outdoor roaming area of at least 8 square feet per animal
  • Prohibiting outdoor slaughter of animals

Unless one has been in a location where there is at least one rooster, you might not know that most roosters start crowing at dawn which can be as much as two hours before sunup.

Other cities that have allowed roosters in urban flocks have had the most complaints and conflicts between neighbors over the early-morning crowing and persistent crowing throughout the day.

And, contrary to what some believe, domestic chicken hens continue to lay eggs nearly year-round whether a rooster is present or not.

The councilors put together a small focus group of people who either have chicken flocks or have had them to see what they had to say about the requirements. Hamon said that the group responded that the guidelines were close to accepted best practices anyway.

Watch our upcoming coverage of the City Council meeting for information about how this discussion went and what the vote was.

Last Updated October 25, 2021, 9:21 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor