City Approves Amendments to Backyard Chickens Program

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Winter Park City Commission, during its Jan. 25 meeting, approved an ordinance amending the backyard chickens program and adopting it into the City Code. The program began in 2020 as a two-year pilot to advance the city’s Sustainability Action Plan goals of increasing local food consumption.

Under the rules of the program, a maximum of 25 chicken coop permits are available for single-family residential properties. Coops can house up to four hens for the purpose of producing eggs for the personal use of the property owner, but the program does not allow for the selling of eggs, chickens, feathers or manure, or for the housing of roosters or other birds.

Among the amendments is the deletion the pilot’s 24-month expiration, allowing existing permits to remain valid and new permits to be registered. To date, six of the 25 permits have been distributed. Periodic inspections of the chickens and the coops, performed by city staff, will remain a requirement of the program.

The maximum allowable height of the coops was raised from six feet to eight feet, and the coops are required to be located in a side or rear yard area at a minimum 10-foot setback from lot lines.

While commissioners agreed with most of the changes, there was some pushback over a requirement for written consent from adjacent residential property owners.

“I do believe it’s somewhat discriminatory,” said Commissioner Todd Weaver, who cast the only vote against accepting the ordinance, as is. “We can’t pick our neighbors and it only takes one to not allow somebody (who’s) responsible to do this.”

Commissioners Sheila DeCiccio and Marty Sullivan pointed out that the consent subsection is up for review in two years, and that Commission could make necessary changes to the ordinance at any time.

DeCiccio also expressed concern that permission from adjacent business owners was not required. “If you have a business next door, and your business has been there for years, you may not want chickens beside you,” she said.

Commissioner Kris Cruzada made the point that any potential inconvenience would be cancelled out by the 10-foot setback, and by the typical activity of a commercial environment. “Sometimes it’s noisy, sometimes there are trucks pulling in and out, so I don’t think it would be much of a burden to them.”

Applicants must pay a permit fee of $50 and complete a University of Florida Agricultural Extension Service class – or equivalent training – within a year of applying.

Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, and any participant choosing to leave the program must provide notice to the city. Click here for more information on the application process.

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