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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- People in Jacksonville might soon be able to legally keep chickens in their backyard.

City council members are expected to vote Tuesday evening on a proposed pilot program.

A number of people within city limits already keep chickens cooped in their backyard.

And while it is against the city's current zoning code for residential areas, chicken owners tell First Coast News that the code is rarely enforced.

Genora Crain-Orth is a member of Hens in Jax, a pro-backyard chicken group that's been advocating for the pilot program.

She said a lot of times neighbors will look the other way if they know someone with chickens in a backyard coop.

"They'll have a really good understanding in some cases," Crain-Orth said.

But under the proposed program, people would no longer have to keep their chickens a secret.

If approved, 300 Jacksonville families would have to pass an agriculture class and buy a $25 permit.

That would allow them to have no more than five hens for the next two years in residential-zoned areas.

Roosters would not be allowed, and the hens would have to be kept in a coop.

The coop would have be kept at least five feet away from a side or rear property line, and it could not be larger than 6'.

Crain-Orth said language might also be added Tuesday that would give some neighborhoods the chance to opt out.

"This would be specifically for places with an HOA. They might be able to say they don't want their members to participate," she said.

Opponents have long maintained backyard chickens lead to unnecessary noise and sanitation issues.

But supporters like Chris Arias in Riverside plan on using the chickens to for a reliable and sustainable food source.

He told First Coast News his hens aren't laying eggs quite yet, but he's looking forward to spring.

"Their egg cycle typically slows down as we approach winter," he said.

Other major cities like Chicago, New York and Tampa all have backyard chickens.

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