Pet Chickens Now Legal in Rockledge! 

Monday, February 11, 2013 1:57:00 PM

On Wed. Feb 6th, 2013, the City of Rockledge officially adopted a new animal ordinance to include chickens as pets!

 

Thanks:

After 7 meetings over the course of six months and extensive research and time invested, we have won the battle for the code change to allow chickens. I can’t thank Avid Homestead enough for their guidance, support and hard work into this change. Thanks also to everyone who has signed the petition, and to the men and women of our city’s staff who have carefully considered, designed, and voted on this ordinance. Cookies will be forthcoming.

 

________________________________________________________

The New Ordinance:

The full Section 88 animal ordinance can be found here, this excerpt relates only to chickens.

 A. Limitation on keeping of dogs or cats or chicken (female Gallus domesticus) within residential land use classifications and vacant property.No person shall keep or maintain in, on or upon any building, premises or property located in any land use classification in which residential uses are permitted, or in any residential unit in a multiple-family, travel trailer or mobile home land use classification four (4) or more dogs or cats or chickens (female Gallus domesticus) or combination thereof, six (6) months [in age] or older. No person shall keep or maintain on vacant property or in connection with any building used for business, commercial or industrial purposes more than one dog. Guard dogs defined in this section are not included in the four (4) pets allowed. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to permit the use of land or building as a dog kennel unless said land or building is located in a land use classification in which a dog kennel is a permitted use or where a conditional use is granted for a dog kennel.

 

B. Definitions. As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings indicated:

4. Chicken. For the purpose of this code, a chicken (female Gallus domesticus), and roosters (male Gallus domesticus) are prohibited.

D. Farm animals, fowls and other species. It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, harbor, breed, sell or maintain upon any premises in any zoning district in the City, except as specifically permitted in a zoning district by the express terms of the Zoning Ordinance, any of the following, to wit: Bees, roosters, peacocks, horses, ponies, cattle, goats, rabbits, ducks or other livestock, or other species customarily utilized in farming operation.

 

G. Any chickens being kept, harbored, raised, or maintained as accessory to a residential single family structure, are subject to the following restrictions:

1. No more than four (4) chickens may be kept, with roosters prohibited;

2. No person shall slaughter any chickens for any reason or use;

3. The chickens shall be provided with a movable covered enclosure (i.e. "henhouse/coop") and must be kept in the covered enclosure or a fenced enclosure at all times. Chickens must be secured within the movable henhouse/coop during non-daylight hours;

4. The space per bird in the henhouse/coop shall not be less than four (4) square feet per bird;

5. No covered enclosure or fenced enclosure shall be located in the front yard, nor shall the henhouse/coop

6. be closer than ten (10) feet to any property line of an adjacent property, nor within twenty-five (25) feet of any adjacent residential structure. Odors from chickens, chicken manure, or other chicken related substances shall not be detectable at the property boundaries;

6. All enclosures for the keeping of chickens shall be so constructed and maintained as to prevent rodents or other pests from being harbored underneath, within, or within the walls of the enclosure. The henhouse/coop must be impermeable to rodents, wild birds, and predators, including dogs and cats. Enclosures shall be kept in a neat condition, including provision of clean, dry bedding materials and regular removal of waste materials. All manure not used for composting or fertilizing shall be removed promptly;

7. All feed and other items associated with the keeping of chickens that are likely to attract or to become infested with or infected by rodents or other pests shall be kept in secure containers or otherwise protected so as to prevent rodents and other pests from gaining access to or coming into contact with them;

8. Chickens shall be kept for personal use only. The selling of chickens, eggs or chicken manure, or the breeding of chickens for commercial purposes in the City of Rockledge is prohibited.

9. No animal that kills a chicken will, for that reason alone, be considered a dangerous or aggressive animal.

10. If the coop structure exceeds eighty (80) square feet in size (8 foot by 10 foot), a building permit is required to be obtained from the Rockledge Building Department.

11. The coop and enclosure must be screened from the neighbor's view using an opaque fence and/or landscape screen.

12. Chickens shall not be permitted to trespass on neighboring properties, be released or set free, and shall be kept within a coop and enclosure.

13. The City of Rockledge may require an initial inspection

of the property following the construction of a coop.

14. Citizens who have questions on the raising and/or maintaining of backyard chickens, shall be referred to the Brevard County Agricultural Extension Office for educational materials.

15. In the event of the issuance of an advisory by any department of health, federal, state or local, all chickens must be exterminated in the interest of public health, the keeping of all chickens under this section shall be immediately terminated. Having chickens on any property in the City at that point shall be prohibited.

H. Nothing herein shall affect the enforceability of more stringent restrictions in place or the ability of private property owners and/or neighborhoods to create and/or enforce private restrictions (including but not limited to: deed restrictions, condominium/homeowners' association restrictions and by-laws, or private covenants), which may provide more stringent regulation of chicken keeping than provided for herein, including the prohibition of chicken keeping.

 

1. Requirements prior to maintaining chickens on property:

a) The property owner desiring to maintain chickens on their property located in an area without a HOA and not within a platted subdivision must obtain the consent of all abutting property owners (those actually sharing a boundary line).

b) Those property owners desiring to maintain chickens on their property located within an area with a Homeowners Association (HOA) must obtain the permission of the HOA;

c) Those property owners desiring to maintain chickens on their property located in an area without a HOA but within a platted subdivision, must receive the consent of twenty-five (25%) percent of the property owners within said platted subdivision;

2. All petitions, maps, consents, HOA decisions must be delivered to the Building Department prior to the establishment of chickens on any property.

I. Staff shall make a presentation and report to the City Council regarding the keeping of chickens in the City pursuant to these regulations by no later than one (1) year after its effective date. The report shall contain an assessment and evaluation of how these regulations have worked in practice and may recommend amendments to these regulations in order to better address any particular circumstances that have occurred as a result of urban chicken keeping. After receipt of the report, the City Council may determine that no further action is warranted or may set a public hearing to consider either amendment or repeal of Section 88.0

___________________________________________________________

 

What this means to chicken owners:

Before keeping chickens, we must get approval from our neighbors and/or 25% of the houses in our subdivision, have them sign something saying they understand and give us permission to keep chickens and turn the signed form into the building department. (This includes those of you that already have covert chickens in residence J ). For your convenience I have created this form that you can print out to have signed by your neighbors. This will only need to be done ONCE per subdivision. If you get permission from your subdivision/neighbors, than any other person in that subdivision can keep chickens as well without having to go through the process.

For Example: There are 46 houses in my subdivision. I need to get approval from 12 houses and turn it in to the building dept., then I (and any other neighbors within my subdivision) can keep chickens.

 

Consent Form

To Locate Your Subdivision:

Go to the Brevard County Property Appraisers Site Map, in the “Quick Search” bar, enter your street address (ex: 123 Rockledge Dr). Your house should be highlighted. Click on your house, then click “More Information”. Scroll to the bottom of the information sidebar, and you should see your platted “subdivision” name, and there should be a highlighted “plat/book page” number you can click on to pull up a printable page view of the houses in your subdivision. If you have any problems, contact Rockledge City Hall (Ph# 321-690-3978) and ask for help looking up your subdivision.

 

 

As Rockledge residents, we need to take this part of the ordinance seriously and follow it to the letter to show the Council that:

1. Our neighbors don’t care if we keep chickens. 2.There are people in Rockledge that want to keep Chickens as pets. 3. We are willing to follow the rules that they feel necessary to make chickens acceptable within city limits.

So that, in a year when the Council reviews the ordinance and its effectiveness in the city, I can request this step be removed. The council wants to ease the residents into this change and inform them of the change by our (the chicken keepers’) work. You can see their reasoning here in the minutes from the second reading of the ordinance.

 

 

THAT BEING SAID:

I strongly oppose parts a) and c) of the requirements prior to keeping chickens. I support part b) that states HOA’s can decide whether or not to keep chickens within their subdivision.

These were my arguments to the City Council regarding this part of the ordinance.

Why do we need a 25% permission from our neighbors?

  • To inform neighbors of change in code?

That’s what this public hearing is about. Giving residents fair warning that code change is being suggested and giving them time to support or oppose the proposed changes. It is not residents’ responsibility to inform each other of change, it is the responsibility of city; no other code changes require this. How are other code changes handled? How will you notify residents of the potential fertilizer change?

  • To cut back on potential complaints from neighboring properties?

If people are following code, then there won’t be any complaints as the planning board has decided based upon their recommendation to the council and the council has agreed with through the approval of the ordinance.

  • To get a “ballot election” free of charge on behalf of the city, to find out how many residents want, or are ok with chickens being in Rockledge so that in one year the council can determine if there are enough residents on board to keep the code up?

No precedence should be set here to say if the council isn’t comfortable with making a final decision for the good of the city that they can carry out a free election of new code through those requesting change. Furthermore, I submitted a sheet with 39 signatures of Rockledge residents who want chickens, and I have even had one man stop by my house after reading the minutes from previous meetings to ask me about the outcome.

  • Or is it simply so that people prejudiced against chickens for one reason or another can be allowed to tell their neighbors “no you can’t have them” as one councilwoman told me they would do if a neighbor approached them for permission?

For those who have chosen to live in deed restricted and HOA managed subdivisions, that is fine, and by living there have agreed to allow their neighbors to have rights over their property when they knowingly moved in there. But for the rest of us who didn’t want our neighbors to have a say in our lives and property rights, it is not right to take that freedom from us through this unorthodox condition being set into the code.

I am asking you, our Council Men and Women, who we have elected to make wise decisions for our city and entrusted with our best interests, to make a decision that will allow chickens for residents who are willing to abide by the guidelines you have deemed prudent, and to remove the requirement for residents to garner a 25% approval in their subdivisions and the approval of neighboring property owners. This sets a bad precedence for the reasons I have stated, and it also limits the power we have entrusted to you as the council for any future changes in code.  

 

 

In Conclusion:

We did it Rockledge! We get to keep chickens! So let’s show the city just how responsible we chicken owners can be and not only follow the ordinance, but impress them with our happy healthy hens, clean cool-designed coops, and glowing reviews from our neighbors. I know I’m excited to start construction of our coop and pick out our new feathered friends. I’ll be posting up the breakdown and design of our coop once we get it finished and where to find inexpensive/free materials to build with locally.

 

For those of you wanting to change code for your city, I am creating a lengthy post detailing our experience with the city, the informational packets we gave to the councilmembers, and recommendations from having gone through this process to help YOU make positive changes for your city!

 

Tweet This

Rockledge City Council Meeting Dec 19th 

Friday, December 14, 2012 10:05:00 AM

I just got a call from Don Griffin at Rockledge City Hall saying the next Backyard Chicken meeting for Rockledge is

Wed, Dec 19 @ 6 pm @ Rockledge City Hall

This is THE Big Meeting so lets get lots of people there to support our chickens! Please let your friends know and if you haven't already signed the petition, you can sign it here. We'll turn the petitions in to the council at the meeting so lets make sure we have a BIG stack to hand them. I'll be calling the council memebers to do a follow up with them about the informational packets on general chicken husbandry and common myths about backyard chickens that we gave to them and try to get a feel for who is in favor of the proposal.

Please be prepared to speak at the meeting if you can. The proposed ordinance http://www.cityofrockledge.org/Pages/Agendas/RockledgeFL_CouncilAgendas/12192012/Chickens.pdf is great except for one line in Section 2 that says that before we can raise any chickens, 1 person in each non-HOA subdivision will have to gather signatures from 25% of their neighbors stating that they are in favor of allowing chicken keeping in that subdivision and must ask permission to keep chickens from adjoining property owners. For example, I live in Levitt Park and there are about 30+ subdivisions within Levitt. My subdivision has 46 houses in it. I would have to get signatures from 12 houses including the two properties that touch mine stating that they are ok with me and any others in our subdivision keeping chickens. I would then have to turn that petition into the Building Dept. at City Hall where they would file it away and then they would tell me I'm allowed to have chickens.

That is a terrible idea and would be an invasion of our privacy and property rights in addition to being just another hoop to jump through.  At the Dec 4th Planning meeting, I tried to convince the Planning Board to remove that line, but they said that they liked the idea and thought that it should be our responsibility (those of us wanting to keep chickens) to inform our neighbors of the change in city code and to educate them on Chicken keeping and request their permission to do so to save the city the imagined complaint calls. I suggested that they put out info in the Rockledge Newsletter available online, but they said they don't expect people to read that or that everyone has access to it. I argued that any changes in code are the city's responsibility and informing residents falls under that category. They said my concerns would be noted in the minutes and continued with the meeting.

We need to request that the council strike that line from the ordinance. If you have any questions, please email me, and if you'd like to read up on the past meetings you can do so here: http://www.avidhomestead.com/erin.aspx.

Thanks, See you there!

Merry Christmas,

Erin

 

 

Tweet This

Rockledge Planning Meeting Dec 4th 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:02:00 AM

City of Rockledge Planning meeting 

Tuesday Dec. 4th

at 6pm

at Rockledge City Hall on the corner of Barton Rd and Huntington Ln

to discuss the revised Chicken Ordinance to be proposed to the council. If you live in Rockledge, FL please come out and support your chicken rights! The meeting is open forum and anyone can speak on the record by turning in a comment/speaker card.

The copy of the updated ordinance can be found here: http://www.cityofrockledge.org/Pages/Agendas/RockledgeFL_PCAgendas/Planning%20Commission%20Agenda%202012%2012-04.pdf  on pages 8 and 9 of the document.

I will post up the results of the meeting ASAP.

Hope to see you there!

Tweet This

Support from Long Ago 

Sunday, October 7, 2012 11:27:00 PM

Once upon a time, the US Government spent money in advertising to promote the keeping of backyard chickens. The year was 1918 and America was in the height of our service during the war. With as many as 10,000 fresh soldiers being sent into France in the summer of 1918, every American was doing their part. With supplies being sent oversees, those on the home front scrimped on things like dairy products and it was considered "a Patriotic Duty" to keep a small backyard flock during war times. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the America of today saw the value in and supported the urban food movement this strongly? This add speaks for itself and will be included in the Rockledge, FL Chicken Initiative informational packets to be delivered to our city council and planning division.

Tweet This

Backyard Chickens for Rockledge, FL 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 8:41:00 PM

Did you know that a Backyard Chicken Initiative has been started in Rockledge,FL? In July, a letter was sent to Don Griffin, head of the Planning Commission, to request a change be made to the current ordinance which allows the keeping of four (4) domesticated or exotic pets excluding any used for pleasure rather than utility (excludes farm animals, wild animals, and poisonous reptiles). The request was taken seriously and the planning board reviewed and voted on this proposed ordinance that would allow the keeping of four (4) backyard hens in residential areas. On Sept. 4, 2012, the planning board approved this with 6 in favor and 1 opposed to recommend to the City Council that this new ordinance be taken into effect immediately.

 

The Rockledge City Council put the proposal on their agenda, but were hesitant to approve any changes to the current laws without further information, and sent the proposal back to the planning board for further review. The next planning meeting to discuss Backyard Chickens is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2012 at 6pm.

 

What you can do to help:

  • We need people at the meetings to show the councils that we DO WANT chickens in Rockledge, FL.
  • Sign the Petition and ask as many of your friends as possible especially those living in Rockledge to sign the Petition.
  • Write letters to the Rockledge Planning Board and City Council members to ask them to pass the new chicken ordinance, and that this is a good thing for our city.

 

An article was published online in the Florida Today about our desire to have chickens in Rockledge! Check it out and spread the word that We Want Chickens!

Tweet This