NORMAN — Norman approves backyard coops
Eating local is taking on a whole new meaning in Norman. The city council approved an ordinance amendment that allows up to four chickens in residential neighborhoods where they were previously prohibited.
Roosters will not be allowed.
Supporters say chickens are an investment and owners will take good care of them.
“We love our chickens,” Norman resident Kim Frakes said “They are a part of our family.”
Frakes said that she lives on a corner lot that backs up to a creek and is already able to have chickens on her property.
The new ordinance expands the chicken allowance to smaller lots, which are zoned R-1.
“The ordinance would apply throughout the city, but if you had restrictive covenants, they would apply,” said city attorney Jeff Bryant, adding that covenants supersede the ordinance.
City Planner Susan Connors said health issues were taken into consideration when developing the ordinance. Smell also was taken into consideration, which is why the number of chickens was limited to four. Complaints related to chickens and chicken coops will be handled by animal control.
“The idea for this wasn’t just plucked out of the air,” Council member Tom Kovach said.
He said residents asked for this as a means of developing a local food source.
“This has been done in cities all over the world with much denser populations than ours,” Kovach said.
Council member Dave Spaulding gave advice on the care and raising of chickens, including the use of droppings as fertilizer. Only Council member Roger Gallagher voted against the ordinance amendment.
Norman’s Municipal Code had required that chicken enclosures be at least 100 feet from the nearest dwelling other than the owner’s and 25 feet from the nearest property line, but “proponents of urban chickens” said those restrictions limited chickens to agricultural zones or large residential estates, according to city staff reports.
The driving forces of the urban chicken movement include the move toward local food sources, poultry recalls and environmental sustainability.
The chickens must be kept within a designated chicken coop and chicken run, and the coop cannot be in the front yard or side yards. The coop and run can be no closer than five feet from property lines and no closer than 25 feet from the neighbor’s house. Movable chicken enclosures are permitted within those distance guidelines.
The minimum size for a chicken coop is four-square-feet per animal, and the chicken run must be eight-square-feet per animal. During daylight hours, chickens must have access to a chicken run and a chicken coop but may be kept within the coop from dusk until dawn as protection against predators. Coops must be predator resistant, and enclosures must be screened to keep flies and vermin out.
“Water shall be provided on site and accessible to chickens at all times,” according to the ordinance. “All chicken enclosures shall be cleaned regularly to prevent an accumulation of food, fecal matter or nesting material from creating a nuisance or unsanitary condition due to odor, vermin, debris or decay.
“Outdoor slaughter of chickens is prohibited,” according to the ordinance.