Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Manatee County Approves Backyard Hens!

After a long campaign led by Manatee CLUCK, the Manatee County Commission voted on June 4th to allow single family homeowners in the unincorporated county to have up to four backyard hens.
Detail of artwork by Old Miakka artist, Jean Blackburn, which may be seen at Bradenton Riverwalk
The vote was 4-2 with Commissioners Chappie, Gallen, Bustle and Whitmore voting for Whitmore's motion. Commissioners Benac and Baugh voted against. Commissioner Benac conceded chickens could be pets, but voiced concerns about the impact on neighborhoods. Her position evolved more than Commissioner DiSabatino who seemed stuck on her position that chickens can only be farm animals. 

Commissioner DiSabatino had a conflicting appointment, but prior to leaving reported she would have voted against the motion -- shattering any illusion that she was open-minded since her announcement preceded the public testimony.

There was some confusion regarding the draft ordinance because staff had submitted CLUCK's preferred limit of 12 chickens and the Board seemed intent on voting on staff's preferred alternative, which was four hens. The motion that passed also increased the side setback from 20 to 25 feet. 

Much credit is due Rob Kluson who combined professional expertise and volunteer dedication to shepherd the process and keep Manatee CLUCK chicken advocates motivated for several years.

Manatee County joins Hernando and Pinellas counties and the City of Sarasota as governments that have recently voted to relax regulations on keeping backyard hens. 

The ordinance wording may be found by clicking on this highlighted text