The city code of Lake Worth, Florida currently disallows residents to keep any type of live poultry on residential land. A growing number of Lake Worth residents, as indicated by their support of a Facebook page entitled "Lake Worth Chickens", are seeking to ammend that ordinance to allow laying hens.
The opposing argument to the ordinance has four main bullet points: 1)Chickens make noise 2)Chicken manure has an odor 3)Chicken feed attracts vermin 4)Chickens carry diseases that are communicable to humans
1) Audible sound is not limited to hens, it is also a feature of any of the other animals that you can legally posess. Furthermore, the sound of a hen is relative to the light of the sun; They are awake when they see the light of day (which is controlled by the time at which the owner opens the coop) and they are asleep when the sun sets. Thus, chicken noise would be limited to the times of day when you could expect to hear garbage trucks, home renovations, landscaping, music from bars and a cacauphony of other sounds that we have come to accept as "city noise". Excessive noise (of any kind) should fall under another ordinace referring to excessive noise and be dealt with accordingly. There is no valid reason for the law to be different regarding hens.
2) People manure has an odor as does the manure of any of the other animals that you can legally posess (dog and cat would rank amongst the worst). The ordinance will only allow 2-4 hens and is relative to the size of the property. That number of hens would not produce more waste than one large dog. If a property owner did not maintain his/her property by removing the waste of the dog, or by repairing his/her own plumbing wherby an offensive odor wafted into the neighboring properties, that property owner would be subject to a dfifferent ordinance regarding property maintenance. There is no valid reason for the law to be different regarding hens.
3)Garbage has the potential to attract vermin, as does the feed of any of the other animals that you can legally posess. Ordinances regarding property maintenance already exist that would encompass the improper storage of either garbage or animal feed to the extent that it attracts vermin. There is no valid reason for the law to be different regarding hens.
4)Our movement has allied with the Poultry Fanciers of Palm Beach County. When we present our final ordinance to the commission we will be accompanied by the Poultry Fanciers, who will provide fact-based, expert information regarding communicable chicken diseases. A layperson's interpretation of that information is that one would need to be breathing the fumes of chicken manure from within a confined, unventillated space in order for their to be any risk. We would not recommend that chickens be housed in that way and we would not recommend that chickens be kept inside the home. In a University of New Mexico study of 25 US cities who have adopted urban-chicken ordinances, there were no reports of chicken owners contracting poultry-born ilnesses.
There are a number of excellent reasons to allow hens in Lake Worth: food security, nutrition, and childhood education to name a few. There appears to be no valid reason to disallow hens and the oppositional argument seems more stigma-based than fact-based. Whether you want hens of your own, you want a local supply of fresh eggs, or you support an individual's right to produce his/her own food then please ask the City Commission of Lake Worth, Florida to allow backyard hens.
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