City considers bucketful of possible regulations
After two hours of talking about the pros and cons of allowing people to keep chickens in their backyards, the DeBary City Council on June 29 agreed to consider allowing those who live on large lots to keep small numbers of hens.
City Manager Carmen Rosamonda cautioned that taking “chickens from agricultural to residential is not a simple thing.”
“There will be some complex issues,” he added. “There are a lot of administrative regulations that go with it.”
The City Council heard a summary of how other local governments regulate chickens on nonagricultural property, notably Volusia County, Deltona, Winter Park and Maitland.
Matters to be decided include:
— Whether to require a permit
— Whether to limit how many people may keep chickens
— Limiting the number of chickens that may be kept at a home
— Setting standards for chicken coops
— Whether to require screening or buffering chickens from adjacent properties
— Whether to require annual inspections of the flocks and their coops
— Prohibiting small-fry chicken owners from commercial activity, such as selling chickens or eggs, on their residential property
The varying lot sizes within DeBary present a challenge, as owners of small homesteads may want the same privilege as their neighbors who live on larger parcels. Residential lot sizes in the city range from one-sixth of an acre to 2.5 acres.
“I don’t think this is a one-size-fits-all,” Council Member William Sell said.
Mayor Karen Chasez suggested the City Council go slowly, rather than risk getting egg on its face with a single all-encompassing ordinance.
“Maybe we don’t need to bite off all of the apple at once,” she said.
City Council members heard from DeBaryites who now have chickens, even though the city’s zoning law forbids it, as well as from people who would prefer their neighbors not have chickens.
“I’m against this program,” Lorraine Koval said. “If people want to have chickens, they should live in an area where chickens are allowed.”
Her husband, former City Council Member Nick Koval, said if the current City Council chooses to change the zoning law and permit small flocks in neighborhoods, the city should “take into account the homeowners associations that have covenants against that.”
But some beat the drumstick in favor.
“Chickens have personalities,” Amber McDaniel said, in support of keeping chickens and gathering their eggs. “There’s something really exciting about that.”
Nikki Kress, who lives in Orlandia Heights, a less-densely populated section of DeBary, said she also keeps roosters on her property. In cities where chickens are allowed, the laws frequently ban roosters because roosters are noisy and do not limit their crowing to sunrise.
Kress also said she has established a charity, Rooster Rescue of Central Florida, to care for at-risk males who may range free from the coop.
“A lot of people are about their roosters,” Kress said. “They don’t want them to end up in a freezer or in a fighting ring. That’s where I step in. I can share the roosters on social media to find a home for them, or I can take them in while I find them a home.”
The City Council reached a consensus in favor of limiting chickens to lots zoned RA, which would have 2.5 acres; or RR, with a minimum of 1 acre.
“I’m for an acre or more,” Vice Mayor Phyllis Butlien said. “I’m having a hard time with this citywide and smaller lots.”
Her colleagues agreed.
The council also asked City Manager Rosamonda and City Attorney Dan Langley to choose a maximum number of chickens a home may keep.
The City Council did not set a deadline for the ordinance on chickens to be ready for action.
Editor’s note: Barb and Keith souped up this story (no noodles). Al Everson should not be held responsible for the chicken puns.