Manatee County chicken proponents squawk for action

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 12, 2013 

MANATEE -- A group of activists are squawking for legalization of dooryard chickens.

Members of the Manatee chapter of Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping, also known as CLUCK, plan to appear during a workshop session March 19 to urge adoption of an ordinance allowing people to raise hens in yards in residential neighborhoods, members said Monday.

"The staff never did what they were directed to do, which was to hold meetings and write a white paper for the commission, so we're still waiting for that to happen," explained CLUCK co-

founder Rob Kluson.

"We were told to cooperate, and we are, but they've never really done their part for us to work with them in negotiating conditions to allow backyard chickens and that stuff."

"We're ready to go, our membership is ready to start having chickens," he said.

Under the current Land Development Code, chickens are illegal in residentially-zoned neighborhoods, a county planning official has told The Herald.

But next week, commissioners are slated to review the code as part of a larger update, and CLUCK members would like to see included new rules allowing chickens, they said. Kluson said the pro-chicken faction has slated a strategy meeting for 6 p.m. tonight at the Palmetto Branch Library, 923 6th St. W., Palmetto, Kluson said.

The Holmes Beach City Commission is slated to consider an ordinance tonight that would address the same issue, city officials said Monday.

The cities of Sarasota and Palmetto both allow it, under certain circumstances, and their rules have been forwarded to Manatee commissioners for study.

"They're all around us, but we're not making much headway," said proponent Vicki Jarratt, a Bradenton resident and a member of CLUCK, referring to other governmental bodies that have recently passed such ordinances.

Two years ago, Sarasota County approved such an ordinance, and now, many residents own hens, said Jono Miller, a founder of the Sarasota chapter of CLUCK.

No roosters are allowed, and the hens must be confined in a coop; he said, adding, "They can't wander out into the yard."

The yolk from eggs laid by such chickens is darker orange, and stands up more than those bought in a store, Miller said.

"I have four hens," he said, adding that they lay three or four delicious eggs a day.

"I can't prove they taste better," he said of the eggs. "But all the neighbors I give them to appreciate them and think they're better than store-bought."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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