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