July 15: Bill Wanders Through City Hall
A proposed bill that would legalize urban hens is working its way through Jacksonville City Hall. If all goes as planned, City Council will vote on the bill August 27. Here’s the schedule:
- July 16. Land, Use & Zoning will read the bill – no discussion.
- August 9. Planning Department
- August 13. First Public Hearing by City Council. No vote, just public discussion.
- August 15. Planning Commission. Public meeting with presentations and discussion.
- August 20. Land, Use & Zoning may vote on the bill.
- August 27. City Council may vote on the bill
June 11, 2013 Update: Bill Gets Filed
A proposed bill that would legalize hens in Jacksonville backyards may be officially “filed” at City Hall tomorrow! This is great news for hundreds of Hens In Jax supporters, who for two years have petitioned city council to update its chicken laws. Once filed, this newly proposed bill still faces a myriad of obstacles before it can become law. We need your help now more than ever to help this bill get passed by City Council.
What Happens Next?
Today Jacksonville City Council Members Don Redman and Doyle Carter met with various department representatives for input to their bill. Concerns expressed today will be addressed in a fourth and final version of the bill which will, hopefully, get filed tomorrow. That puts the bill on track for a formal introduction at the June 25 City Council meeting. This will be a reading only – not a public hearing! From there, the bill goes before various committees, Land Use/Zoning, the planning commission and, of course, a variety of Public Hearings. Once the bill is assigned a number, a schedule will be announced. We’ll update this post accordingly.
Concerns Raised Today
Based on the feedback from various city departments in the limited time allotted for today’s discussion, the bill raises a myriad of logistic concerns, such as licensing fees, enforcement, zoning, health issues, etc. Is there a licensing fee? If so, how much? Is it enough to cover costs of enforcement? Who enforces it? How will it be enforced? How many hens are allowed? How close can coops be to water, streets, neighbors, etc. Should it be introduced on a limited trial basis? As these details are addressed, the final bill may be quite different from the one being filed tomorrow. But it’s a start – a very good start. Hats off to Lauren Trad, the Hens in Jax team, Council members Don Redman & Doyle Carter and hundreds of supporters for taking the movement this far!!! It’s been a long, arduous effort.
What The Proposed Bill Covers
As currently written, the bill legalizes four hens in ALL residential areas – except where superseded by Home Owner Association and other neighborhood regulations. This is a welcomed change for many hen-supporting neighborhoods like Springfield and Riverside that were left out in previous versions specifying low density (RLD) zones only. The bill sill outlaws roosters, free ranging and backyard slaughtering.
Your Support Is Needed Now More Than Ever!
If this bill has any chance of passing, I personally believe it requires even greater organization, communication and unity from supporters. The many concerns raised today are just the tip of the iceberg as this bill works it way through City Hall. We need a clear, unified strategy for upcoming Public Hearings. I suggest we get together in person to develop a strong, solid game plan. We could list all possible concerns, then prepare and rehearse short, clear responses for each. Speakers typically have three minutes at the podium. Let’s choose teams of people who can clearly express the many supportive points so we use our Public Hearing time wisely. If anyone has a better strategy, please share it! This grassroots movement has come too far to fade out now. Anyone have a venue big enough to host several hundred people?
SNF will continue to post updates below in the comments section and all our social media pages. Well done team! We’re almost there.
March 29, 2013 Report: Details of Proposed Hen Ordinance
Jacksonville’s backyard chickens have a tireless advocate in Lauren Trad. As the organizer of Hens In Jax, she’s become a regular visitor to City Hall. Since 2011, Hens In Jax has been petitioning city lawmakers to legalize backyard hens.
On March 26, Lauren got her opportunity to speak in front of six council members, urging them to reconsider the city’s chicken laws. Residents filled the meeting room to show their support for this first big step forward. They watched as Lauren clearly explained why other large, progressive cities around the US have already legalized hens. She addressed all the pros and cons, then opened the panel for discussion.
This grassroots movement is now officially on City Council’s radar. Council members Don Redman and Doyle Carter have committed to draw up a new hen ordinance and make sure it gets before the public and city council for consideration. Stay tuned. We’ll provide updates below in the comments.
How Can You Help?
Now that council members are openly discussing a change in chicken laws, the movement needs your support to maintain momentum.
- Call or email Jacksonville’s City Council members. All contact info is on this link.
- Sign the Hens In Jax petition (if you haven’t already).
- Monitor SNF’s FB and social media pages for ongoing updates on future meetings and milestones. Then, keep sharing!! The movement got this far because of YOUR support.
- SNF’s report from 2011. Here’s our first report on the movement to legalize Jacksonville’s urban chickens.
Will This New Ordinance Legalize Your Backyard Hens?
Here are the zones being considered under this new hen ordinance: RLD 120, 100A, 100B, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, AGR and RR. If you live in one of these zones and this proposed ordinance passes, you may be permitted to have 8 egg-laying hens. Roosters are allowed only in AGR & RR. Click on this link to find out how your property is zoned.