Will Jacksonville Legalize Backyard Chickens?

A New Urban Hen Ordinance Works Its Way Through City Hall
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Girl with pet chicken

Hens make great pets. Help Jacksonville homeowners legalize their backyard chickens!

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.

Happy backyard hen

Sustainable gardeners love their backyard hens. They provide organic pest control, fertilizer and fresh eggs!

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.

 

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March 29, 2013 Report: Details of Proposed Hen Ordinance

 

 

Lauren Trad addresses city council

Lauren Trad, organizer of Hens In Jax, addresses Jacksonville City Council members (left to right): Robin Lumb, Don Redman, Doyle Carter, Clay Yarborough, John Crescimbeni and Lori Boyer.

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.

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.

 

Hens In Jax supporters at City Hall

Jacksonville hen supporters fill City Hall meeting room to encourage council representatives to legalize urban chickens.

young Avondale reporter at HensInJax mtg

Two young hen supporters from Avondale interview council members and attendees to write a report for a neighborhood publication.

Avatar of Trish About Trish

I’ve been gardening organically for 20+ years. I eat mostly vegetarian. I love cooking what I grow and creating healthy new ways to incorporate whole grains, beans and seeds with my harvests. In my sustainable Jacksonville home, I have lowered my carbon footprint with solar power, rainwater harvesting, composting, waste reduction, etc. I'm eager to do more!

I started Sustainable North Florida as a way to connect with other locals who share my passion for protecting our natural resources and eating healthy - and a way to promote and showcase all the wonderfully green things happening in our neighborhoods. My vision is a more sustainable community that lovingly supports one another with knowledge and resources. Jacksonville is a great place to call home!

Comments

  1. This is a good idea in many ways, although it increases the work necessary in the case of a break out of the bird flu or any other disease that affects the bird population, however with constant monitoring and closer supervision these diseases can be totally eliminated and is in fact greatly reduced by the smaller concentration of the birds in their living facilities. it also preserves the food supply by not concentrating all the hens in just a few commercial locations thereby will maintain ample availability of a healthy poultry population. A separate slaughter facility might also be a good idea for these back yard hens so as not to cause any contamination in case of a breakout of any such disease by cross contamination with commercially raised hens.

  2. You raise some interesting points Orin. As Lauren mentions in the video, the ordinance permits 6 hens that must be kept in a clean pen, away from view of the street and in accordance with the care standards outlined by IFAS. It does not allow backyard slaughter to avoid the types of concerns you addressed. The hens are for pets and egg laying only. Neighbors are protected under the same ordnances that apply to nuisance dogs and cats regarding noise, wandering around neighborhood, etc.

  3. Next City Council Meeting is April 23, 2013 at 2:30. PLEASE come show your support as Council Members Don Redman and Doyle Carter discuss proposed ordinance 656.401 (a) (3), which would legalize pet hens for backyard egg production. For more information contact Scott Wilson, ECA, District 4 at 630-1394. Meeting at City Hall, 117 West Duval Street, 1st floor Lynwood Roberts Room.

  4. Update: Next meeting at City Hall is May 14, 2013 at 2:30. Council members Doyle Carter and Don Redman will discuss a proposal to amend the city’s existing pet ordinance to include pet hens for backyard egg production in residential RLD zoned areas. Meeting location is Don Davis Room 1st floor at City Hall.

  5. Update from May 14, 2013 City Hall meeting. Doyle Carter and Don Redman are preparing a proposed ordinance that allows 8 hens in zones RLD 120, 100A, 100B, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, AGR & RR. Roosters allowed only in zones AGR and RR. Follow the link inside this article to look up your property to determine how it’s zoned. We’ll update here and Facebook when next steps are announced.

  6. I believe there are “Sentinal” chickens throughout the city that are monitored for mosquito borne diseases, this has been going on for quite awhile if I’m not mistaken. The mosquito borne diseases are not transmittable from the infected chickens to humans. Commercial poultry operations never permit backyard flocks anywhere near their facilities/operations for strict biosecurity reasons, this is accomplished by zoning regulations.
    I can think of more reasons to own chickens that not to own them. They make great pets and make my breakfast.

  7. June 11, 3pm. Council members Don Redman and Doyle Carter discuss a proposed hen ordinance that legalizes egg-layers in RLD zones. Their goal is to finalize the proposed ordinance so it can be introduced to the full Jacksonville City Council for a vote. Event details here: http://sustainablenorthflorida.org/jacksonville-green-event-calendar/hens-in-jax-ordinance-discussed-at-city-hall/

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