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Jacksonville playing chicken with backyard hens

10:59 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's illegal, but many people on the First Coast are doing it.

When you peek over your neighbor's fence, you might expect to see a cat or a dog, but certainly not a chicken.

But so many people in Jacksonville already have hens in their backyard that they're pushing to make it legal.

Lauren Trad's chickens are on the lam.

"I had hens on my property for two-and-a-half years before I got cited by the city," she said.

Facing a fine of $250 dollars a day, she had to move them out.

"They fed my family, they entertained my family, I cared for them for years," she said.

So now she's advocating for a new bill that would allow her to bring her pet hens back.

"Once I found out, I got real active to see if I could get the ordinance changed before I got in trouble, but it didn't work," she said.

City Council members considered the legislation at a meeting Tuesday where hen advocates talked about the benefits of backyard chickens.

"My kids love eggs and that would definitely help with the grocery bills," said Melissa McClarren.

The proposed bill would only allow for backyard hens, no roosters.
And they're considering limiting the number people can keep in their yard.

But right now, keeping any is still illegal, which worries McClarren, who has 8.

"We're worried every day that code enforcement may come and try to bust us," she said.

While some City Council members voiced concern about the animals, Trad said the hens are better pets than most.

"A cared for coop has no smell. The animals are not loud, they're no louder than a flock of geese flying over. They're quieter than my German Shepherds," said Trad.

The City is still drafting the legislation, and it would have to go through committee and a vote before the backyard chickens would be legal, so as they old saying goes, don't count count your chickens before they hatch.

First Coast News

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