110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Dec 10, 2013 - 9:54:02am
The one-year experiment is over. The DeBary City Council voted 3-2 Dec. 4 to no longer allow residents to keep chickens in residential areas. Chicken owners have until the end of the year to relocate their hens.
In November 2012, the DeBary City Council adopted a pilot "Chicken Ordinance" inspired by J.J. Hart. The boy’s parents said caring for his flock of chickens was therapeutic for the autistic youngster.
Keeping poultry and other livestock in residential areas had not been permitted in DeBary, and the Harts had been cited by the city’s code-enforcement department.
The pilot ordinance allowed DeBary residents to keep up to three hens — not the six J.J. had been caring for — and it allowed up to seven households to keep chickens during the pilot program.
The Harts had the only permit granted under the pilot program, but another resident had applied for a permit recently. Her application was on hold, pending the City Council vote.
J.J.’s father, Joseph Hart, thanked the City Council during discussion leading up to the vote.
"It's made a tremendous difference in J.J.'s life. I hope you extend it," he said.
Leigh Corry, the second applicant, told the City Council she hoped permission to keep chickens would be extended, and also that the city would allow up to five chickens.
Several other people, including Council Member-elect Rick Dwyer, spoke in favor of making the pilot program permanent. Others, however, spoke against it.
Robert Smith said he didn't want chickens. He said he has seen people selling chickens and maintaining large flocks, violating existing ordinances.
Council Member Lita Handy-Peters made a motion to extend the program for two years. More people would apply for permits once they could be sure their investment in required structures for housing the chickens wouldn't go to waste, she said.
Mayor Bob Garcia seconded the motion, after no one else did.
Council Member Dan Hunt said, "I'm not against chickens." He said he was glad the chickens helped J.J., but noted the lack of applications for permits. Hunt said he would feel better about supporting the continuation if there had been more demand.
Council Member Nick Koval noted there would be no way to exclude chickens in the DeBary Country Club communities or Glen Abbey, where most people wouldn't want them, but members of the audience and Garcia said homeowners associations could prohibit them.
Garcia and Handy-Peters cast the two votes in favor of continuing the chicken program. Hunt, Koval and Vice Mayor Chris Carson voted against it.
Should the matter be brought back next year, it could fare better. Recently elected and due to take office in January is Dwyer, who is in favor of chickens. He will replace Koval, who voted against continuing the chicken program. Koval lost to Dwyer in the Nov. 5 vote. Carson, the only other City Council member up for election this year, was re-elected.
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