Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nokomis Chicken Issue Re-Ignites Push for Backyard Hens in Sarasota County

Three Barred Rocks have re-energized the five-year-old quest to legalize backyard hens in Unincorporated Sarasota. The three hens, Big Barb, Wendy, and Lucy, belong to Christina and Tyler Korman who assumed it was okay to have a few egg-producing pets in Nokomis.

On August 20th they were informed they had about two weeks to get rid of the birds or face a daily fine of $250 dollars. But instead of giving up or paying a fine, the couple got creative and secured permission to have their birds serve as "sentinel chickens", which provide a valuable service to the county. In addition the neighbor that complained, rethought things.

On Friday November 14th, instead of being directed to pay $18,250, Special Magistrate Robert Zack gave the couple until December 19th to see if the County Commission might be sympathetic to their plight and direct staff to work on changing the rules.

This deadline has motived Sarasota CLUCK members who have been looking for an opportunity to re-invigorate the campaign that started in June of 2009. After 18 months the group secured a three year trial period in the City of Sarasota. Meanwhile the group tried to interest the Sarasota County Commission in allowing hens in the Unincorporated County. One common question was: "What is the experience in the City?" That was answered in early 2014 at the end of three year trial period when the City Commission made the change permanent. Despite the City success, the former County Commission showed little interest in making a change.

Since CLUCK was formed backyard hens have been allowed in Duval County (Jacksonville), Manatee County, Hernando County, and Pinellas County. Their experience, combined with the realities in the City of Sarasota and Venice, argue that Sarasota County now needs to bring county rules into alignment with the City. 

On Tuesday the 18th a new Commission will be seated, one that includes Paul Caragiulo, who was a City Commissioner during the initial CLUCK campaign. The intersection of the Magistrate's deadline  with the new commission has county chicken advocates optimistic that the Commission will finally listen to their requests.

Read the Sarasota Herald Tribune story here.

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