October 10, 2023 Update:
During the Oct. 9 City Council Work Session, city staff presented research and information to the Council on backyard hens and recommended that changes be made to the city's ordinance. The initial recommendation by staff included:
- allowing 6 hens on a minimum 8,400-square-foot residential lot, with up to 6 additional hens for every additional quarter acre. Roosters would not be allowed;
- requiring a coop, run and exercise area located at least 50 feet from neighboring homes;
- requiring yard to be fenced with a 6-foot wood fence;
- establishing a permit process, including a site visit with the resident present. No fee would be charged for the permit.
A chicken class or education requirement was not part of staff's recommendation, although that was listed as a recommendation from a group advocating for backyard chickens.
The City Council directed staff to draft an ordinance with options for the Council to consider in terms of number of chickens, lot size, distance and fence requirements. Council will review and consider the ordinance at its Nov. 13 meeting.
Residents can provide feedback on the recommendations by emailing email@example.com.
July 26, 2023 Update:
The City Council received input from residents regarding the city ordinances pertaining to raising chickens at their July 24, 2023 City Council Meeting. Some residents are requesting that backyard chickens be allowed at homes with lot sizes smaller than one acre. City staff is gathering information on other area ordinances, along with input from citizens, and will present options to the City Council at an October 9 Work Session. A moratorium on the current ordinance will be in place until a decision by the City Council is made.
Backyard Chickens FAQs
Does North Richland Hills allow backyard chickens?
The keeping of livestock animals including horses, goats, chickens, turkeys, etc., is allowed on properties zoned either Agriculture or R-1-S that are at least 1 acre in lot size (Code of Ordinances Section 24.5, Zoning). There is a limit of 1 per acre (Section 14-442, Animals). Additionally, chickens cannot be kept within 50 feet of any residence or inhabited building (Section 34-33, Nuisances).
How long have these ordinances been in place?
The following chronology shows when city ordinances relating to chickens were adopted/revised:
- 1953 – An ordinance was adopted stating that fowl cannot be kept within the city for any commercial purpose, must be kept securely enclosed and confined to the premises of the keeper, and shall not be allowed to run or fly at large.
- 1960 – The Code of Ordinances was amended to add that fowl cannot be kept within 50 feet of any residence or inhabited building. (Section 34 Nuisances)
- 1984 – The Code of Ordinances was amended to permit livestock and fowl only on lots of 2 acres or larger that were zoned Agricultural. (Section 24 Zoning)
- 1985 – The Code of Ordinances was amended again to add the R-1-S zoning and permit livestock and fowl on lots of 1 acre or larger zoned Agricultural or R-1-S. (Section 24 Zoning)
- 2013 - The Code of Ordinances was amended to add a 1-animal per acre limit for livestock, including chickens. (Section 14 Animals)
What is R-1-S zoning?
The R-1-S single-family residential district is intended to provide areas for very low-density development of single-family homes on lots that are at least one acre in size in a quasi-rural setting. The R-1-S district specifically allows for the keeping of livestock in a residential setting. (Code of Ordinances Chapter 118, Section 118-331(b))
Can a property be grandfathered?
Grandfathering (also called legal non-conforming status) may apply to zoning ordinances in certain situations. In this case, a property would have to have continuously had chickens since before 1984 to be considered. Property owners should contact the Planning & Zoning Office at 817-427-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Where can I find the zoning and lot size for my property?
Zoning maps are available on the city’s website at https://www.nrhtx.com/265/Maps. Please contact Planning & Zoning staff at 817-427-6300 or email@example.com with any questions.
Lot sizes are included in your annual statement from the Tarrant Appraisal District and can be found on their website at www.tad.org.