An ordinance allowing ownership of up to (4) backyard chickens on detached single-family residential properties in Safety Harbor was passed by the City Commission on Thursday by a 4-1 vote.
The Safety Harbor City Commission on Thursday approved an ordinance that will allow residents to have up to four “backyard chickens” on single-family detached residential properties in town.
The proposal, which came with considerably less fanfare and public debate than the two previous readings of the ordinance, passed by a vote of 4-1, with Mayor Joe Ayoub casting the lone vote against.
After ten residents came to the podium and reiterated the pros (fresh eggs, they eat bugs) and cons (smell, noise, they attract vermin and spread disease) of owning backyard chickens, with some suggesting a compromise that would allow chickens on larger lots and a community coop for other residents, Ayoub explained his position.
“I’m not against chickens,” Ayoub said prior to the commission’s vote. “I’m not passionate one way or another, but I would prefer…a community type approach rather than jumping full-fledged into this.”
Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub.
“So, I don’t support the ordinance as-is.”
The mayor’s comment was met with silence from his fellow lawmakers, as the issue had already been dissected and discussed at length during the two previous readings of the ordinance.
During the prior discussion, Commissioner Scott Long emphatically summarized the situation surrounding the issue by pointing out how much time, research and effort was being put into an item that would in reality only affect a handful of people.
“We have ninety-five pages of backup materials on this. Ninety-five pages,” he said during the May 15 commission meeting.
Safety Harbor City Commissioner Scott Long.
“And I’ll make this pledge to you: if we pass this and we ever get more than 95 households in the city with chickens, and I’m still on the City Commission, I’ll come to the next meeting wearing a chicken suit!”
Long added, “It seems like whatever problems we’re gonna have here, our code is going to take care of it” before closing with, “I think we can all agree that we have far more important issues to worry about in this city than chickens.”
With no further discussion on Thursday the commission took the vote and the item, with one change that allows for chickens to be kept on corner lots as well as backyards, passed.
The ordinance carries several restrictions/guidelines for chicken ownership, including:
After the meeting, the mayor expanded on the reasoning behind his vote.
“I would have preferred exploring the idea of a community chicken coop at Folly Farm or somewhere in the city,” Ayoub told Safety Harbor Connect.
“I’m concerned about the impact it will have on some neighbors, and it seemed like a good compromise between people who wanted them and people who didn’t.”
“I’m not against the chickens,” he added. “But I’m hesitant to have them on small, 50 x 100 foot lots.”