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Council tables decision on hens in Austin

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 in favor of postponing to next year an official vote on whether or not to allow hens in Austin during its Monday evening work session.

Austin resident Sherry Schied has petitioned the Austin City Council to have a few hens on her property in northwest Austin. The council voted to table the discussion until next year. Herald file photo

The discussion stemmed from a petition submitted by Austin resident Sherry Scheid to allow a few hens on her property. Hens are currently prohibited within city limits under city ordinance; to allow for hens would require drafting a new ordinance that would establish parameters on how they would be kept on private property.

Councilwoman Rebecca Waller (First Ward) said she was in favor of allowing hens within city limits. Councilwoman Laura Helle (First Ward) said many who messaged her were in favor of allowing hens and noted that the timing was not coincidental as people are tightening their budgets and looking to be more independent. She added that she has not heard complaints from cities where hens are allowed and that she favors a restrictive ordinance.

Councilman Jason Baskin (Second Ward) said he would be okay with moving forward cautiously with a plan in place.

Councilmen Steve King (Second Ward) and Paul Fischer (Third Ward) both opposed allowing hens within city limits, saying it was poor timing as city staff, which could be facing a reduction in numbers, is overloaded with work and that it was not worth dedicating their time to enforcing an ordinance on the matter.

Councilwoman Joyce Poshusta (Third Ward) was undecided, noting that while she received more emails in favor of allowing hens, those opposed made valid points. She also agreed the timing was poor.

Councilman Jeff Austin (At-Large) said he was opposed to hens in Austin, but felt that because of the timing, it should be tabled until next year, when a new council will be in place.

Helle and Baskin cast the two votes in opposition of postponing until next year.