Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Backyard hens can transmit Salmonella.

We've said it before, but it is worth repeating.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

SRQ Planning Commission's Unanimous Support

If you'd like to watch the Planning Commission testimony and commission discussion and vote, please take the following link and advance (using the slider at the bottom) to 2:48. Our agenda item lasts 52 minutes. The date is listed as the 19th, but it was the i8th
And please mark your calendars for the September 20th Board of County Commissioners meeting. This will a DAYTIME meeting in downtown Sarasota and we don't know if it will be morning or afternoon yet. This will be THE most important meeting! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

North Port Nixes Hens Again

Despite strong support from Commissioner Yates and Mayor Moore, the North Port City Commission once again sunk an effort to have staff draft a backyard hen ordinance based on the successful experience of the City of Sarasota. 

Commissioner Cook's objection to my being able to speak for more than three minutes signaled her continued, and strident, opposition to backyard chickens and Commissioner Tom Jones seemed concerned about the possibility of residents living in mandatory Homeowner Associations (such as Sabal Trace) being unable to prevent poultry. (The City of Sarasota makes it clear that mandatory HOA regulations take precedence over the Citys' ordinance.) That left former supporter Vice Mayor DiFranco, a former chicken owner, as the swing vote. 

Commissioner DiFranco argued that while she had supported backyard hens previously, contact with the community had convinced her that the majority of North Port residents opposed hens. 

Her argument was bolstered by the fact that only three North Port residents argued strongly for hens, and they were offset by three residents (including the ever-entertaining and feisty Buddy Hughes) who argued against. Another citizen thought chickens could be appropriate on large lots with tight regulation. 

Opponents frequently cited property rights ("I don't want to look at coops or cows.") and a concern about property values, although no information or testimony has been brought forward at any level that backyard hens decrease property values. In fact, a recent article documents the fact that chicken coops are being included in some real estate ads as amenities. 

One prominent Sarasota realtor has said "If your neighbor has three lawn ornaments or paints their house pink, that will have more effect on the ability to sell your house than if they have backyard chickens." 

Research presented in a comprehensive study of 100 cities that allow chickens concluded that: "As of yet, no studies have been done on how backyard chickens in particular affect property values, but given that communities express little concern that other pets, such as dogs or cats, reduce property values, and given research showing that pets and urban agricultural practices can increase them, there is little reason to believe that allowing backyard chickens will negatively affect them."*

Commissioners Moore and Yates will need more citizen support if they are to challenge Commissioner DiFranco's conclusion that the community support just isn't there. Of course, the majority of Sarasota City residents never said they favored chickens -- proponents simply demonstrated that allowing chickens posed no discernible threat to residents.

*Illegal Fowl: A Survey of Municipal Laws Relating to Backyard Poultry and a Model Ordinance for Regulating City Chickens by Jaime Bouvier 
Jaime Bouvier is Visiting Legal Writing Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Our next Sarasota CLUCK meeting will be held Wednesday May 25th at 6:30 p.m at the Farm Bureau Building at 7289 Palmer Blvd. Sarasota 34240.

Now that the County is moving forward, we'll be discussing strategy and how we can help county planning staff in their efforts.

We'll be looking for volunteer speakers, people that can help with enforcement, and great local personal testimony. We'll also have a chance to introduce veterans from our successful campaign seven years ago that led to chickens being allowed in the City of Sarasota.
This is a chance to connect with Sarasota's chicken underground and organize for the final push. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sarasota Chicken Train Leaves Station

Sarasota County’s backyard chicken train left the station today (May 10 2016), but not before being slowed down and having some extra stops and baggage added. It is now expected to arrive in late September or early October.

Commissioner Mason, eager to see the languishing hen issue resolved before she leaves the Board in November, brought the matter up, trying to gain support to draft and advertise an Ordinance based on the success in the City of Sarasota. 

But Commissioner Robinson redirected the three Commissioners present (Commissioner Caragiulo had to attend to a matter in Sarasota) to the staff report recommendation that included an added “outreach” provision. Mason withdrew her original motion and moved the staff recommendation, which ultimately passed 4-0, but not before a few concerns were raised.

Here's the staff recommendation: Should the Board recommend the implementation of a "backyard chicken" ordinance, similar to the City of Sarasota's, staff will schedule workshops for both North and South County, as well as facilitate discussion with neighborhood associations such as the Council or Neighborhoods Association (CONA). Staff would also request CLUCK's assistance in providing information and education with these discussions. Subsequent to the workshops, a Board authorization to advertise item will be scheduled to deliver the results of those outreach efforts, as well as, discuss the processing of a proposed Ordinance.

Commissioner Robinson, assuring those assembled that she was not creating roadblocks or speedbumps, asked staff to address “health aspects” that might include required vet visits or licensing. She also wanted clarification on code enforcement – specifically if CLUCK was going to provide a service comparable to what is available in the City of Sarasota where chicken-related calls are routed from paid city staff to CLUCK volunteers to save the City time and money. Commissioner Hines noted concerns from the Sheriff's office.

COMMENT: The report delivered to the Commission clearly stated that the County's Director of Health and Human Services, reviewing both information from the City of Sarasota and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "do not provide a recommendation for or against the keeping of backyard chickens."

As for the role of volunteers, CLUCK is now planning a May 25th evening meeting to explore that question. Details will be provided here, when that date and location are confirmed.