The August 8th Escambia County BCC Regular Meeting made for a very long night. I had brought my daughter, Ally along with me because this morning before work, I told her what was going to happen tonight. She thought it best that she attend too, so that she could help represent our chickens. The meeting started on time and the first items on the agenda were several awards and proclamations recognizing county staff and other government officials. Soon after that, were zoning issues that required voting on, one of which turned into a very long and drawn out discussion that seemed to go on forever, but in reality was somewhere around an hour. Our item on the agenda scheduled for discussion at 5:51 P.M., but it was well after 7:00 P.M. before the zoning issues were out-of-the-way. At this point, I think my seven-year old daughter was about ready to give up politics entirely.
The rest of the items moved along quickly, and finally we came to our agenda item, the Chicken Ordinance. Chairman Valentino recognized that we had five speakers signed up to talk about the ordinance change, all five were in favor for it, none in opposition. Since there was no opposition one of the Commissioners motioned to vote for the ordinance change, then another quickly seconded it. They voted, 5 in favor, none opposed. It concluded that quickly.
Although I’m not a public speaker by any means, I was a little disappointed that none of us got called on to talk. I had planned to extend my thanks to the county staff that we had worked with over the last six months. I think it was an educational experience for everyone involved; I leaned a great deal about how our local government works and they got to learn that we really aren’t a bunch of crazy people wanting to keep chickens because it’s the “kitschy” thing to do. Once they realized that, which was rather early on I might add, they treated us with the respect and dignity that every county resident should receive from our elected officials and the public staff.
Afterwards, as I’m getting into my car to drive home, a friend texted me, “Can we chicken or can we not chicken?” A very valid question.
Tonight’s vote was the first of two public votes required for the ordinance change. After a required 10 day advertisement period, the next vote can take place. The August 20th BOCC meeting will be the second vote. If that vote passes, then our ordinance change gets adopted and we can “chicken” legally. It is possible that opposition may find its way to that meeting. If it’s not passed, it will likely be kicked back down to the Planning Board again, or the County Commissioners could even suggest an alternative to whatever issue was found that they didn’t like.
I would like to thank everyone– all of you, on behalf of all of us who’ve been working to make this happen. Over the last few days, we’ve received tremendous support. While we have no way to know how many of you called or emailed our Commissioners or their staff directly, we do know that 84 of you emailed them through our website. It’s a lot more than I anticipated and we all appreciate your involvement very much. We still have two weeks until the next vote and it will not hurt for new residents to contact their commissioner and let him know where you stand.
If you’ve already contacted our commissioners, contact them again and tell them, “Thank you” for voting in favor of the ordinance change. Let them know you appreciate it!
Once again, because it’s very important, THANK YOU!