Charlotte County commissioners narrowly advanced a plan to allow chickens on small residential lots Tuesday.
The vote was 3-2 to bring the plan back for a final vote in two weeks. Commissioners Stephen R. Deutsch and Joe Tiseo voted no.
The proposal, which has been in play for the past year, now has no cost to applicants and includes the county’s very small residential lots that were approved for development before 1992. Otherwise, the lots must be 10,000 square feet for four hens, and 22,000 square feet for six. No roosters.
Staff adjusted a full fencing requirement to say that opaque fencing is required only in the area where a property owner is keeping their chickens and must shield the view from side yards and from the rear. A requirement to fence a full property was deemed too costly and unnecessary for people on large lots.
Staff also removed the $440 fee at an earlier request of commissioners.
“So we’re not going to charge any fee at all?” Commissioner Chris Constance asked. “They didn’t create Coca Cola and hand it out for free.”
“We will go back and see if maybe we have a miscellaneous fee,” said Zoning Official Shaun Cullinan.
“I don’t want to charge a fee just to charge a fee,” Constance said, and asked instead that staff determine the cost of the program over the first year of operation.
Tiseo said he was concerned that side yard screening had been reduced.
Deutsch said he could only approve a plan if residents had to have at least an acre.
“This doesn’t affect three of you at all, because where you all live, you can’t have chickens,” Deutsch said to the other commissioners.
The chicken ordinance would not override rules in deed-restricted communities, which often ban livestock.
“Your neighbors are going to smell these chickens,” said Alice Esposito, the lone citizen opponent at this latest hearing. “There’s a good possibility that they’re going to be subjected to rodents and other predators.”
Chicken advocates have said the animals make great pets, do not spread disease as some have said, and provide much-needed eggs.