Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken Coop Setbacks: Clearing the Air

A lot of misinformation has been circulating about appropriate setbacks from property lines when it comes to chicken coops and runs. [The runs are basically chicken lanais that allow them access to the ground, fresh air, and sunshine during the day, but not as much protection as is needed at night in the secure coop.]

Part of the confusion stems from testimony at the City Planning Board, where one board member stated, inaccurately and without contradiction, that a study provided by the planning staff said "And in the materials about other ordinances from other locations they say the average distance to property lines was 20 to 50 feet required. Why did you choose, when the average in other areas is 20 to 50 feet, why did you chose 10?"

In reality, the document being referred to said something completely different. Here is the opening paragraph of the section on distance restrictions:

Distance restrictions between the location of the chicken coop and property lines, or coop

and nearby residences, were stated in 16 of the ordinances evaluated. There were no

restrictions in 3 of the ordinances and 5 were unclear. Of the 16 with distance

restrictions, 12 were distances required from residences, while 3 were distances required

from property lines. The distance required from property lines ranged from 10 to 90 feet,

while the distances from residences ranged from 20 to 50 feet.

[You can tell its a quote because it is pasted in.]

To summarize: the authors looked at 25 cities that allowed chickens. Five were unclear about setbacks from the property line. That leaves 20. There were no restrictions in three. That leaves 17, although the report only refers to 16. Of the 16 only three required setbacks from the property line. Those three varied widely -- 10 feet, 25 feet and 90 feet. Clearly 90 feet is an anomalous outlier. The fact is the most common setback for the coop from the property line is zero feet.

CLUCK is going along with 10 feet, even though the mobility of the Sarasota coops will allow distances to be adjusted "on the fly". Since the coops can be moved, there is no need to obsess about distances when they are not fixed.

As for distances from residences, chicken opponents should argue for coops closer to the owner's own residences so that they might be aware of any problems.

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