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Jacksonville backyard chicken pilot program in the works

11:19 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's been years in the making, soon urban chicken enthusiasts may be able to keep hens in their backyards.

A new proposed law has already cleared one hurdle, being passed by the land use and zoning committee. Next up is the city council.

After being cited back in 2011, Lauren Trad was forced to get rid of the hens she kept in her backyard. For the past three years, the Jacksonville mother has made it her personal mission to be able to fill back up her coop.

At her family garden center on San Jose Boulevard, Trad is allowed to keep her hens because they were grand-fathered in. But at home where she would like to be closer to her feathered friends, it's currently banned.

"I just don't think we should be introducing farm animals into residential neighborhoods," said Councilman Robin Lumb.

He is the only member of the land use and zoning committee who voted against a bill that got the green-light to move onto the full council. He argues the beaked animals have no place in people's backyards.

"That's not what zoning should be about in a major metropolitan area," said Lumb.

But Trad who started a petition and collected over 3,000 signatures from Duval County residents sees chickens as helpful pets.

"The waist that comes from a backyard hen is gold," said Trad. "It's fertilizer for your garden."

She says chickens are also good for eating many of those unwanted bugs in your backyard like mosquitoes. And there's the added benefit of fresh eggs.

What's now being proposed is a two year 300 permit pilot program. It includes mandatory educational classes so the chosen few know exactly what they're pecking at.

"For all my work I just hope I'm one of those 300," said Trad. "That's my only fear now is that I've worked for three years and after all of this work I won't be able to put my chickens back in my backyard."

Roosters would not be allowed in the pilot program only hens. The bill will be voted on this coming Tuesday, during the city council meeting.

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