Council to consider changes to urban farms ordinance


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 10:25 PM

AUSTIN – On Thursday the Austin City Council will host a public hearing. The council will discuss proposed changes to the city’s current ordinance regarding urban farms.

Those proposed changes were the impetus for a small protest Friday evening at Pleasant Valley and 7th street.

Some citizens believe the proposed changes could open up the door to slaughter houses moving into neighborhoods.

“It would allow the slaughter of chickens, and rabbits, and other animals, and allow the decaying of the body parts on single-family land. And it would also allow outdoor and indoor entertainment without any regulations,” said Susana Almanza with PODER.

At the center of the controversy is an East Austin urban farm called HausBar Farms, located at 3300 Govalle.

Co-owner Dorsey Barger told KVUE, for four years they’ve raised chickens, rabbits, and other livestock, which they slaughter and sell to local restaurants. The farm used to compost a small portion of the animals slaughtered.

Barber says recently a neighbor across the street from the farm complained about the smell, so they stopped the process.

“We have decided not to do that. And we have contacted a company called Break it Down, that will easily be able to come and take those parts of the animals that we can't use, and compost it off site for us,” said Barger.

“Talk about a dead smell. And that's the main thing about that,” said Louis Polanco, the neighbor across the street from HausBar Farms who complained about the smell.

Not every neighbor feels that way about HausBar Farms. Cipriano Aleman, an east Austin resident for 58-years, told KVUE he believes at least 60 percent of neighbors in the area support HausBar Farms being there.

One nearby resident told KVUE that HausBar Farms is a place where children, including her own, can learn from.

“It doesn't take much for them to go ‘oh that's where eggs come from.’ And it's like a real life lesson for them that you can't really get any other way,” said Laura Smith, a neighbor.

The city council will have the last say on the proposed changes which were passed by Austin’s Planning Commission. However, no one from that commission returned KVUE’s calls for comment Friday.