Brownwood City Council members approved an expansion incentive loan Tuesday to VRC Technologies, a chemical blending company, for $185,000.

The loan will be made from old Brownwood Economic Development Corp. funds, Brownwood Municipal Development District Executive Director ray Tipton said. The loan is repayable over five years with job credits for the creation of 21 new jobs and construction of the storage facility.

If the company doesn’t create the jobs, the loan will be repayable in cash, Tipton said. He also said the company will be in default on the loan if it does not build the storage facility.

Council members ratified earlier action by the Brownwood Municipal Development District board in approving the loan.

The company was founded in Brownwood in 2012 and is expanding, and needs a new storage facility to accommodate an increase in business. 

In other business, council members held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to change the regulations on the keeping of chickens in city limits, but tabled action on a first reading of the ordinance.

Council member Ed McMillian earlier asked that the existing ordinance be reviewed and made more lenient. The existing ordinance does not state the maximum number of chickens that can be kept, but states each bird met be kept in a pen or coop and have at least 100 square feet per bird.

The Planning and Zoning Board met three times on the ordinance and voted for several changes including:

• Added “no livestock other than chickens” can be kept.

• Added “no emu, ducks, geese, guinea, roosters, turkey or any other fowl other than chickens” can be kept.

• Added “chicken coops and/or pens are restricted to backyards only, and must be a minimum of 10 feet from a neighboring property one and a minimum of 50 feet from a neighboring occupied structure or offsite receptor.”

• Added a restriction of eight hens per residence, with no roosters allowed. The proposed ordinance requires coops for four square feet per bird and a minimum space for runs (or pens) of 15 square feet per bird.

McMillian said he recommends that the ordinance be changed to allow 10 chickens rather than eight.

Mayor Stephen Haynes asked if the city would be making it “harder or easier for people to keep chickens.” McMillian said he believes the proposed changes would make it easier.

Haynes said he wants to ensure the city is not “restricting people as an over-reaction to an isolated incident.”

Tim Murray, director of developmental services for the city, said the existing ordinance does not address many issues and is hard to enforce. The proposed changes would make it easier on citizens and also make it easier for the city to enforce, Murray said.