Allow backyard chickens in Edgewater, FL

This petition made change with 536 supporters!

Currently in Edgewater, the city code of ordinances states:

Sec. 5-8. - Animals prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for an owner to keep or permit to be kept within the city any horses, hogs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, bees, cattle, chickens, or other farm animals, and any animal from the wild, unless said species are both kept on property appropriately zoned and lawfully permitted, if necessary, by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. All venomous snakes permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall also be required to register with the city's animal control division. The prohibition contained herein applicable to horses, hogs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, bees, cattle, chickens, or other farm animals shall not apply to any property within the city that either:
(1) Maintains an agricultural property designation with the Volusia County Property Appraiser's office as [of] June 15, 2009; or
(2) Was previously zoned for agricultural purposes and proof is made to the city that such species resided and existed on the property prior to any zoning change and have continuously resided and existed on the property since the zoning change.
A residential premises shall not exceed a maximum number of five dogs or cats, or a combination thereof, and must provide proof from a licensed veterinarian that each dog or cat has been sterilized. Any premises that harbors an unsterilized dog or cat over six months of age must obtain a breeders permit, an unaltered animal permit or both (those that are applicable under the circumstances).
(Ord. No. 2009-O-02, Pt. A, 6-15-09; Ord. No. 2011-O-11, Pt. A, 9-26-11)

Chickens have been animal companions of humans for thousands of years. When allowed to range in the yard, they are very entertaining and they provide more benefits to us than cats or dogs. They provide outstanding pest control, eating ticks, slugs, mosquitoes and many other insects. And they produce eggs that are much more nutritious than those you can buy at the supermarket. Keeping backyard chickens is more than just a trend, they are beneficial to the families and communities that allow them.

Backyard chickens are beneficial to the community that they live in because they:

  1. Offer fresh, locally sourced eggs(and can be organic and non-GMO).
  2. Can help to provide food security for lower-income families.
  3. Produce healthier eggs compared to store-bought eggs.
  4. Provide gardeners with high-quality fertilizer.
  5. Help control flies and other pests. 
  6. Dispose of weeds and kitchen scraps that would otherwise go to the landfill. 
  7. Are seen as therapeutic for children on the autism spectrum by getting the kids involved in feeding and caring for the chickens, thereby promoting independent living skills.
  8. Provide a great way for kids to learn about nature, agriculture and the responsibility of caring for animals. It’s also a fantastic way for both kids and adults to gain respect for these intelligent creatures that produce food for us.

Backyard chickens will generally get far more humane care than those raised in filthy, crowded “factory farms.” Industrial production is creating numerous problems, including pollution from manure, antibiotic resistance and higher risk of a more dangerous strain of bird flu. Keeping a few chickens at home is one way we can each do our part to address these problems. Limit their numbers, and require clean, humane care — sure. But there is no legitimate reason for any city to prohibit keeping a few chickens, any more than there is reason to ban the keeping of dogs or cats.

In March of 2015, the city of Deltona began a year-long trial period allowing backyard chickens. On March 7, 2016, the ordinance allowing backyard chickens in Deltona became permanent. The specifics on this ordinance can be seen in Article VIII of the city of Deltona's code of ordinances. 

Some common misconceptions about backyard chickens include:

  1. They're noisy. Chickens will peep and cluck softly throughout the day, and are silent all night. If you don't have roosters, there won't be too much noise. 
  2. They smell. A small flock(4-5 chickens) will poop about as much as an average dog, and the coop will not smell if it kept clean. 
  3. They attract predators. This is not truly a misconception, but can easily be remedied by the chicken owner. Chickens aren't only food for humans-- they can be food for a number of predators as well. It is the responsibility of the chicken owner to keep his/her chickens contained and safe from predators, just as the same responsibility falls on cat and dog owners.
  4. You need a rooster for hens to lay eggs. This is simply untrue, the only reason a rooster would be needed in a flock of hens would be for reproduction. Hens will still lay eggs without a rooster present.

What we are asking is for a change in the ordinances against owning backyard chickens in the city of Edgewater, and adopting a new ordinance that allows citizens in residential zoned areas to own a small backyard flock.

Here is the city of Deltona's Article VIII from the municipal code, which the city of Edgewater could use to make adopting new backyard chicken laws and ordinances a success:

Sec. 14-281. - Chicken permit.
A chicken permit shall be required for chickens to be kept, harbored, raised, or maintained in chicken coops as laying hens for eggs as accessory to a residential single-family structure, ("residence"), but only subject to the following:
(1) No more than five chickens may be kept on a lot, with roosters prohibited.

(2) The residence shall be owner-occupied.

(3) The chicken permit applicant must sign a statement acknowledging that the chicken permit may be revoked for any violation of this article, and may be revoked if this article is amended in the future, and the city will not be held responsible or liable for any losses to the applicant if such chicken permit is revoked.

(4) Ducks, geese, turkeys, peafowl, or any other poultry or fowl are not allowed under the provisions of this section of the code.

(5) Chickens and associated activities shall be kept for personal use only. Selling chickens, eggs, or chicken manure, or the breeding of chickens is prohibited.

(6) The coop and enclosure must be screened from the neighbor's view, using an opaque fence.

(7) The coop and enclosure must be located in the rear yard, as defined by the city's Code of Ordinances. No coop or enclosure shall be allowed in any front or side yard.

(8) The coop or enclosure must comply with standard setbacks.

(9) The coop and enclosure shall provide a minimum of four square feet per chicken to permit free movement of the chickens. The coop and enclosure may not be taller than five and one-half feet, measured from the natural grade, must be at least six inches lower than the fence to screen them, and must be easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance. A building permit is required under the Florida Building Code if the coop exceeds 100 square feet. The coop shall not exceed a maximum of 200 square feet.

(10) The coop and enclosure shall be covered and ventilated, and a fence enclosure/run is required. The coop and enclosure must be completely secured from predators, including all openings, ventilation holes, doors and gates (fencing or roofing is required over the enclosure in addition to the coop, in order to protect the chickens from predators).

(11) All stored feed must be kept in a rodent- and predator-proof container.

(12) Chickens shall be kept within a coop and enclosure from dusk until dawn. No person shall release or set any chicken free from such coop and enclosure unless under the supervision of a person, and no person shall slaughter a chicken .

(13) coops and enclosures shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition at all times. Chickens shall not be permitted to create a nuisance consisting of odor, noise or pests, or contribute to any other nuisance condition.
Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Editor's note— Ordinance No. 10-2016 adopted on March 7, 2016, in effect repealed former § 14-281, which pertained to a trial period for owning chickens and derived from Ord. No. 02-2015, adopted March 16, 2015. Ordinance No. 10-2016 also enacted a new § 14-281 as set out herein.

Sec. 14-282. - Procedures for the granting of chicken permits.
The building and enforcement services director, under the direction of the city manager, is authorized and directed to administer the chicken permit process as follows:

(1) A chicken permit will be issued once an applicant has completed an application, met all conditions, and staff concurs with the issuance of a chicken permit.

(2) There will be a $25.00 fee for the chicken permit and initial inspection.

(3) Once a chicken permit has been issued for a chicken that is maintained under this section, the location will be subject to an annual inspection to ensure that the area is being maintained in a manner that is safe and sanitary for the animal and does not burden the neighbors of the residence.

(4) If any condition of the chicken permit has been violated, the city may revoke the chicken permit immediately if the violation has not been remedied after seven days' notice, or if it is a repeat violation. The city is responsible for the determination of compliance with the requirements of this article. In matters of interpretation, the building and enforcement services director has the authority to determine compliance with the Code of Ordinances.

(5) A person aggrieved by a decision of the building and enforcement services director in the issuance, denial or revocation of a chicken permit may appeal to the city manager. A person aggrieved by a decision of the city manager may appeal to the city commission.

(6) Persons granted a chicken permit will be encouraged to attend an appropriate training session to learn safe chickenand egg practices.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Sec. 14-283. - Animals killing chickens.
No dog or cat that kills a chicken will, for that reason alone, be considered a dangerous or aggressive animal.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Sec. 14-284. - Not required for a zoning district.
A chicken permit is not required for the keeping of chickens in the A (agricultural) zoning district.
(Ord. No. 02-2015, § 1, 3-16-2015; Ord. No. 10-2016, § 1, 3-7-2016)

Today: Wendy is counting on you

Wendy Chapdelaine needs your help with “Edgewater Mayor & City Council, Allow backyard chickens in Edgewater, FL”. Join Wendy and 535 supporters today.