Orange County a step closer to allowing backyard chicken coops - FOX 35 News Orlando

Orange County a step closer to allowing backyard chicken coops

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Orange County is a step closer to allowing backyard chicken coops in some areas.

Orange County Commissioners held the first public hearing on the issue on Tuesday.  The proposal allows up to three cooped hens in unincorporated parts of the county.  Training would be required, along with a permit.  Roosters would not be allowed.  The coops must sit at least five feet from the lot line and a minimum of 25 feet from an adjacent single-family residence.  

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the county is headed in the right direction.

"It's so important to understand these are not roosters," said Mayor Jacobs. "Chickens are very, very compatible animals. You won't know that your number has them next door."

A second public hearing in Orange County is scheduled  for July 2.

If commissioners do approve the ordinance, the county will join Orlando in the new trend that seems to be hatching all over the country.  Maitland, Winter Park and Lake County are also exploring the idea.

Orlando already allows a limited number of backyard chicken coops. They offer 75 permits; that's tripled the original limit of 25 put in place last May.  Orlando's Chief Planner Jason Burton said so far 35 people have completed the program.

"Everybody is getting a little bit more conscious about where their food comes from," said Amy Rupert Sechol, a local advocate for locally grown food.

Rupert Sechol is also the ambassador for Homegrown Local Food Cooperative in Orlando.

Homegrown is a where you can find everything from fresh veggies, to organic milk, and grass-fed beef and chickens.

"If you consider broccoli that was grown in California and transported to Florida, it has lost nearly 70-percent of its vitamin C during that truck ride."

Rupert Sechol said the coop's membership has grown in its two years as a store off N. Orange Avenue.  Currently, there are 800 members.

"They're realizing that factory farming is not the way to go if you want to have a healthy environment and a healthy body," said Rupert Sechol.

And home-grown eggs are becoming a growing part of the locavore movement.

"The wonderful thing is that it is not heat pasteurized," said Rupert Sechol. "And it has not been bleached, which are things that you find in the grocery store eggs."

Rupert Sechol said health is the number one driver, along with saving money.

"If you're trying to find good quality ones can range upwards of $8-10 per dozen," said Rupert Sechol. "And it's certainly not going to cost you that amount to have your own chicken eggs at home."

Mayor Jacobs supports the ordinance, and believes it'll pass.  However, she said she does have one battle left to win.

"A year ago, I would have thought it sounded a little unusual," said Mayor Jacobs. "Today, I'm hoping to get some chickens myself.  I have a battle to fight at home over that one. "

County leaders agreed that education is key. Burton told FOX 35 about 20-percent of those who go through classes drop out.  The city's program also has agriculture extension agents on call to visit homes.

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