Gainesville to allow 10 backyard chickens


FILE PHOTO - Katherine Henry-Hetel feeds her chickens, Agnus, Bridget and Bella at her home in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.

With little discussion, the City Commission pushed ahead Thursday with a substantial increase to the number of backyard chickens allowed in Gainesville.

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FILE PHOTO - Katherine Henry-Hetel feeds her chickens, Agnus, Bridget and Bella at her home in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

The first vote on an ordinance to increase the allowable number from two to 10 passed 5-2, with Mayor Ed Braddy and Commissioner Todd Chase in dissent.

A second commission vote, probably at the Nov. 21 meeting, is needed for final approval.

Like the city’s current law, the increase will allow hens, but no crowing roosters.

Braddy said he did not want to ruffle any feathers but believed 10 chickens were too many for residential areas in the city. He said he would have supported city staff’s recommendation for a more modest increase from two to six.

“I don’t want to be called anti-chicken because I didn’t go for 10,” Braddy said. “As long as you fry them.”

Urban farmers have pushed city officials for the increase at meetings dating back several months. When the issue was up at the Sept. 5 meeting, residents who supported the increase said more chickens would mean more healthy eggs for their families.

Citing concerns with noise, odor and public health, city staff originally recommended an increase to six chickens. After the advisory Plan Board recommended a more significant increase to 10, staff issued an alternative recommendation allowing up to six chickens at lots of 10,000 square feet or less and up to 10 chickens at lots larger than that.

The chickens have to be kept in a backyard in a fenced area or covered enclosure. The city will also have requirements such as “the regular removal of chicken manure.” To avoid foul smells related to the fowl, there is a condition that “odors from chicken-keeping shall not be detectable at property boundaries.”

Chickens and any chicken “by-products” may not be sold at the residential properties where the chickens are kept.

The responsibility for enforcing the various rules and regulations associated with chicken-keeping will fall on the city’s code enforcement officers.

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