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Fowl, deficit, fees on agenda

Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:25 PM

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A second and final public hearing to consider a new backyard chicken ordinance will come up at Tuesday's county commission meeting.

The ordinance would permit residents in residential areas from having a maximum four chickens on site, which must be housed in a coop behind an opaque fence. The fowl must be kept inside the coop day and night.

County Commissioner Wayne Dukes has called the ordinance too restrictive and illogical. He worried that keeping the chickens confined so long, especially in the heat of summer, would kill them.

Dukes said he would remind colleagues Tuesday that the city of Tampa recently passed its own chicken ordinance, allowing for five chickens on a far less expansive piece of property.

Assistant County Administrator for Planning and Development Ron Pianta said the ordinance was written to provide protection to neighbors and ensure it will be nuisance-free.

Pianta added that some of these coops are large enough so the fowl can move around. However, Pianta said the ordinance specifically states no free-roaming chickens.

And in the summer, it is incumbent on the owners to keep the coops clean, Pianta said.

The issue was raised after Carol Aquilante, of 5505 Piedmont Drive in Spring Hill, appealed to the county last November to raise chickens in her backyard because the eggs taste much better than store-bought and are healthier.

Because the current ordinance allows chickens only in agriculturally zoned districts, commissioners directed staff to come up with a new one with guidelines.

The county commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St., in downtown Brooksville.

Also Tuesday:

At a mediation session Wednesday, both sides agreed that Hernando could use the name Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

The study is expected to guide county and school officials to make a decision about the future of the rates.

To see the entire agenda, visit (352) 544-5290

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