Fla. city ends program allowing backyard chickens

DEBARY, Fla. (AP) — The father of an autistic boy says he’ll be contacting his attorney after the DeBary City Council voted to end a pilot program that allows residents to keep chickens in their backyards.

Councilmembers ended the program with a 3-2 vote Wednesday. But Joseph Hart vowed to fight for the right to keep the chickens that his 3-year-old son J.J. calls ducks.

Hart credited the council for starting the pilot program last year and told them his son had made significant progress since they got the chickens, which a physician recommended to help with the boy’s therapy.

“It’s made a tremendous difference in J.J.’s life,” Hart said. His vocabulary has gone from ‘ducks’ to that of a normal kid his age.”

The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/1aFn2y6 ) reported Councilmember Chris Carson said he’d like to keep the program going for the boy. But he voted to end the pilot program, saying he didn’t want to create opportunities for people to turn chickens and their eggs into a business.

“I don’t support a program that has a door open to take advantage for commercial purposes,” he said. “I support J.J. I’m all about the children. It’s starting to become something else.”

The program will end on Dec. 31.

Resident Leigh Corry also has chickens in her yard. The city had previously pursued a code-enforcement case against her for keeping the chickens.

“Chickens are really great,” she said. “Everyone really loves them.”

Her neighbor, Barry Maguire, told the council that he opposes the program.

“From a real estate perspective, this would undoubtedly cost some nice, hard, cold equity,” he said.

Some councilmembers said they weren’t sure there was a real desire among residents to have chickens in their yards. But Mayor Bob Garcia, who supported extending the pilot program, disagreed.

He said one resident noted that people didn’t want to invest in getting a permit and a legal chicken coop if they weren’t sure the law would be made permanent.

“People are not gonna step forward and build (a coop) only then to have to tear it down because they can’t have it any longer,” he said.

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Information from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com

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