New Chicken Ordinance Draft as of May 23, 2013

Only a few minutes ago, we received the following email from the county.

Good Morning,

This was an email from Ryan Ross and he asked for me to send it to all interested citizens. Attached is the draft ordinance and the information from the Extension Office. The Planning Board meeting will be June 3 at 8:30 AM.

Poultry Publications Ordinance Draft 4A

Thanks,

Kayla Meador
To All: I have attached a revised version of the ordinance establishing regulations for the non-commercial possession of live chickens on residential property.  I have also reviewed the materials supplied to me by our Extension Office (attached and highlighted).  Based on my review of these documents, I believe we still have two major unresolved issues:

1.  Number of chickens on a lot.  The current version of the ordinance establishes an eight-chicken limit on lots smaller than ¼ acre in size.  This is consistent with the City of Pensacola, which has established an eight-chicken limit on lots regardless of size.  During the last workshop, the Planning Board voiced its desire to establish a “sliding scale” based on UF Extension guidance.  I have reviewed the UF Extension materials, along with materials from extension offices in other states, and I was unable to locate guidance on the appropriate number of chickens that could be kept on an acre of land.  The general rule seems to be that a property owner should allocate 3-5 square feet of coop and open space per chicken.  I do not have the expertise to translate this into a workable scale.  Since I think any proposed scale would likely be legal, I will have to defer to the Planning Board, Planning Staff, Extension Staff, and the interested citizens on the number limitation that is appropriate for residential lots.  (I also reviewed ordinances in other Florida communities to see if there is a consensus; they appear to vary based on the needs of the individual community.  For example, while Pensacola has an eight-chicken limit per lot, Orlando has a three-chicken limit.  In contrast, Broward County authorizes up to 25 chickens per lot, provided that the chickens are kept in an enclosure at least 50 feet from the lot line.)

2.  Roosters on lot.  The Planning Board indicated that we should establish some flexibility in allowing roosters on a lot, particularly when the noise impacts will likely be minimal.  The UF Extension guidance does not address whether roosters should be allowed, but Michigan State Extension guidance advises that any backyard chicken ordinance should prohibit roosters.  Additionally, most of the Florida ordinances that I reviewed prohibit roosters.  I did locate one community, Pembroke Pines, that authorizes the possession of roosters, but only when such possession takes places no less than 100 yards from any inhabited dwelling other than the dwelling of the owner of the roosters.  Since this echoes the Planning Board sentiment as I understand it, I incorporated the same language into the current version of the ordinance.

I encourage you to distribute this e-mail and the attachments to Mr. Tate and the interested citizens for their feedback.  I am available to discuss these issues if they would like.  Again, though, I think these are largely policy questions and not legal questions, and I do not have the subject matter knowledge to make a call regarding the appropriateness of any proposed numerical limitations.

Ryan E. Ross
Asst. County Attorney
Escambia County, FL

31 thoughts on “New Chicken Ordinance Draft as of May 23, 2013

  1. Profile photo of adminadmin

    If the finer points of the “sliding scale” are worked out during the next Planning Board meeting, then it can move on to the BCC. There will have to be two meetings to debate the issue so it could be done around August perhaps.

  2. Escambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken OwnersEscambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken Owners

    August would be the absolute earliest the ordinance could pass, assuming that everyone loves the draft. After the workshops it has to be voted on by the Planning Board. Before the vote it must be advertised publicly for a minimum of 10 days. After the Planning Board vote it moves forward to the Board of County Commissioners. Once again it has to be advertised for 10 days for a vote to take place. Assuming the BCC likes it and doesn’t kick it back to the Planning Board it could possibly get that August vote.

    Let’s hope for a swift resolution and we can be done with this political foolishness and enjoy some fresh backyard eggs. – Keith

  3. Escambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken OwnersEscambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken Owners

    August would be the absolute earliest the ordinance could pass, assuming that everyone loves the draft. After the workshops it has to be voted on by the Planning Board. Before the vote it must be advertised publicly for a minimum of 10 days. After the Planning Board vote it moves forward to the Board of County Commissioners. Once again it has to be advertised for 10 days for a vote to take place. Assuming the BCC likes it and doesn’t kick it back to the Planning Board it could possibly get that August vote.

    Let’s hope for a swift resolution and we can be done with this political foolishness and enjoy some fresh backyard eggs. – Keith

  4. Profile photo of adminadmin

    August would be the absolute earliest the ordinance could pass, assuming that everyone loves the draft. After the workshops it has to be voted on by the Planning Board. Before the vote it must be advertised publicly for a minimum of 10 days. After the Planning Board vote it moves forward to the Board of County Commissioners. Once again it has to be advertised for 10 days for a vote to take place. Assuming the BCC likes it and doesn’t kick it back to the Planning Board it could possibly get that August vote.

    Let’s hope for a swift resolution and we can be done with this political foolishness and enjoy some fresh backyard eggs. – Keith

  5. Profile photo of adminadmin

    The escambia county people will always rely on people from other counties to sell them chicks when needed if nobody is allowed to have a rooster. But admittitently roosters are loud. About the same as my neighbors dogs.

  6. Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    In the draft, roosters aren’t prohibited however they require you to have a large enough piece of property to meet the required 100 yard distance from another dwelling. I personally don’t have an issue with this as it allows people with large enough property to keep roosters but keeps them out of the residential areas where there are bound to be noise complaints.

    If anyone has followed this from the beginning, we were originally trying to get them to mirror the city ordinance which prohibited roosters entirely. This draft is far more flexible then I had thought we would be able to get.

  7. Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    In the draft, roosters aren’t prohibited however they require you to have a large enough piece of property to meet the required 100 yard distance from another dwelling. I personally don’t have an issue with this as it allows people with large enough property to keep roosters but keeps them out of the residential areas where there are bound to be noise complaints.

    If anyone has followed this from the beginning, we were originally trying to get them to mirror the city ordinance which prohibited roosters entirely. This draft is far more flexible then I had thought we would be able to get.

  8. Profile photo of adminadmin

    In the draft, roosters aren’t prohibited however they require you to have a large enough piece of property to meet the required 100 yard distance from another dwelling. I personally don’t have an issue with this as it allows people with large enough property to keep roosters but keeps them out of the residential areas where there are bound to be noise complaints.

    If anyone has followed this from the beginning, we were originally trying to get them to mirror the city ordinance which prohibited roosters entirely. This draft is far more flexible then I had thought we would be able to get.

  9. Sonya DotenSonya Doten

    Yes, we got more than we were hoping (Well, we will if this passes the BCC) because we were fortunate to have a supporter on the Planning Board. He was able to ask for things that we knew we were in no position to request.

  10. Sonya DotenSonya Doten

    Yes, we got more than we were hoping (Well, we will if this passes the BCC) because we were fortunate to have a supporter on the Planning Board. He was able to ask for things that we knew we were in no position to request.

  11. Profile photo of adminadmin

    Yes, we got more than we were hoping (Well, we will if this passes the BCC) because we were fortunate to have a supporter on the Planning Board. He was able to ask for things that we knew we were in no position to request.

  12. Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    The Planning Board meeting agenda has been posted on the county site. The chicken ordinance is item 6, C. which means it could be late in the morning or early afternoon. We’ll try to find a narrower time frame as the date approaches and update everyone.

  13. Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    The Planning Board meeting agenda has been posted on the county site. The chicken ordinance is item 6, C. which means it could be late in the morning or early afternoon. We’ll try to find a narrower time frame as the date approaches and update everyone.

  14. Profile photo of adminadmin

    The Planning Board meeting agenda has been posted on the county site. The chicken ordinance is item 6, C. which means it could be late in the morning or early afternoon. We’ll try to find a narrower time frame as the date approaches and update everyone.

  15. Ken CarpenterKen Carpenter

    I have been following this for a while and think that if you have enough property that roosters should be allowed, I have dogs and cats around our area that drown out my rooster sometimes and our coop is about 30 or so from the house. Do something about these noisey dogs, I have 2 1/2 square acres and our coop is right dead in the middle of our property and the neighbors dogs running lose and barking is irrattating more then the chickens.

  16. Ken CarpenterKen Carpenter

    I have been following this for a while and think that if you have enough property that roosters should be allowed, I have dogs and cats around our area that drown out my rooster sometimes and our coop is about 30 or so from the house. Do something about these noisey dogs, I have 2 1/2 square acres and our coop is right dead in the middle of our property and the neighbors dogs running lose and barking is irrattating more then the chickens.

  17. Profile photo of adminadmin

    I have been following this for a while and think that if you have enough property that roosters should be allowed, I have dogs and cats around our area that drown out my rooster sometimes and our coop is about 30 or so from the house. Do something about these noisey dogs, I have 2 1/2 square acres and our coop is right dead in the middle of our property and the neighbors dogs running lose and barking is irrattating more then the chickens.

  18. Escambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken OwnersEscambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken Owners

    There’s not much we can do about the dogs or cats in this county because they outnumber us too greatly! That’s not a fight I’m even remotely willing to pick! I think every chicken owner will agree that chickens–even roosters–are less noisy, less smelly, less annoying, and more beneficial than dogs or cats. However, because, as a society, we’ve gotten away from our basic, agricultural roots, most people for the past 40 years or so haven’t been raised around chickens. All that most people have to go on are misconceptions–or possibly even a bad experience from an irresponsible chicken-owning neighbor. That’s why one of our goals is to educate the public about the joys of backyard chicken ownership. Once there are enough chicken owners in the county and there is enough public interest, we can work toward getting roosters permitted on more properties. Right now, for us to even have the Planning Board CONSIDER allowing roosters for some properties is a HUGE victory that we never expected and it opens the door for greater freedom of our property use in the future. ~Robin

  19. Escambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken OwnersEscambia County (FL) Backyard Chicken Owners

    There’s not much we can do about the dogs or cats in this county because they outnumber us too greatly! That’s not a fight I’m even remotely willing to pick! I think every chicken owner will agree that chickens–even roosters–are less noisy, less smelly, less annoying, and more beneficial than dogs or cats. However, because, as a society, we’ve gotten away from our basic, agricultural roots, most people for the past 40 years or so haven’t been raised around chickens. All that most people have to go on are misconceptions–or possibly even a bad experience from an irresponsible chicken-owning neighbor. That’s why one of our goals is to educate the public about the joys of backyard chicken ownership. Once there are enough chicken owners in the county and there is enough public interest, we can work toward getting roosters permitted on more properties. Right now, for us to even have the Planning Board CONSIDER allowing roosters for some properties is a HUGE victory that we never expected and it opens the door for greater freedom of our property use in the future. ~Robin

  20. Profile photo of adminadmin

    There’s not much we can do about the dogs or cats in this county because they outnumber us too greatly! That’s not a fight I’m even remotely willing to pick! I think every chicken owner will agree that chickens–even roosters–are less noisy, less smelly, less annoying, and more beneficial than dogs or cats. However, because, as a society, we’ve gotten away from our basic, agricultural roots, most people for the past 40 years or so haven’t been raised around chickens. All that most people have to go on are misconceptions–or possibly even a bad experience from an irresponsible chicken-owning neighbor. That’s why one of our goals is to educate the public about the joys of backyard chicken ownership. Once there are enough chicken owners in the county and there is enough public interest, we can work toward getting roosters permitted on more properties. Right now, for us to even have the Planning Board CONSIDER allowing roosters for some properties is a HUGE victory that we never expected and it opens the door for greater freedom of our property use in the future. ~Robin

  21. Profile photo of mkpritchardmkpritchard

    Thanks for pushing for this. I’ve always kept my head down since I have a few pets in my backyard and didn’t want to be the nail that gets hammered down. Its always ticked me off that the Pensacola city resident 3 doors down could have chickens but it was illegal for me. I’m so glad the distance requirements may be reduced. If it still had the 50 foot minimum then I would not be able to comply.

Leave a Reply