BOCC will allow chickens in neighborhoods

Hayden Williams

A thousand puns scream from this story.

But for Hayden Williams, nothing is funny about shifting rules in DeSoto County. Commissioners on Tuesday amended an old ordinance disallowing those in close residential neighborhoods from raising chickens ... or any feathered commercial/domestic creature. Only 4-H or FFA kids until Tuesday were exempted under the ordinance listing domestic fowl as a nuisance, the squawks and trespassing they provide to neighbors. The new county rule would allow domestic chickens.

Though few cared if government banned fowl—including DeSoto commissioners Terry Hill and Elton Langford, who talked about their chickens—DeSoto wanted to ease up. A first reading of the new ordinance on Tuesday got lively, though. Commissioner Buddy Mansfield questioned if chickens make good neighbors.

That’s when 11-year-old Hayden stepped forward, addressed the commissioners, assertatively: fowl, he said, should be welcomed in DeSoto neighborhoods. “I will try to convince you to pass this,” said the youngster, who is president of the 4-H Poultry Club, and so represented his constituency.

At finishing a polished presentation, Commissioner J.C. Deriso told Hayden that he was “more at ease behind that podium than I am,” drawing smiles.

But Mansfield wasn’t having it. Would the revised rule “sound-proof them too, or let them intrude on neighbors,” he wondered of backyard chickens. Certain fowl “get pretty loud,” he added.

County attorney Donald Conn said new rules could include just chickens, female at that, as they produce eggs and make less racket than roosters. Peacocks and such, however, stay in the nuisance category. To which, ultimately, commissioners agreed. Mansfield voted against the plan, which gets a second reading before rules change.

In the majority, Commissioner Elton Langford said: “It would be hard to look a youngun in the eye, tell him he can’t do in the city what a kid in the country can do.”

To which Hill added about roosters: “They wake you up, get your day going.”

In other business, commissioners in the evening session in a first reading accepted rules allowing repairs to agriculture-related equipment on residential property (Mansfield dissenting), and approved a two-acre expansion of a medical marijuana growing facility along U.S. Highway 17. That is a joint project between Sun Bulb and Columbia Care Florida.

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