Pasco may change land use laws to allow backyard fowl
NEW PORT RICHEY Following the lead of Dade City and other Tampa Bay municipalities, Pasco commissioners are now looking to revise land use laws to allow backyard chicken coops.
County zoning laws permit chickens only in agricultural areas. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said she would support a change to allow a limited number of chickens in residential neighborhoods.
“Chickens, not roosters,” Starkey said. “My sister-in-law lives in Tampa, and she had chickens. I’m always getting fresh eggs from my niece. It’s a nice little enterprise for her.”
Dade City commissioners approved an ordinance last year allowing residents to raise backyard chickens. Tampa and St. Petersburg also have approved urban chickens. Hernando County commissioners approved a similar ordinance in March after going through several revisions.
An early draft of the ordinance said all chickens would be confined in a coop, which led to concerns from the public and board members about the well-being of the birds during hot months. Instead, the ordinance now calls for people to keep the chickens in an enclosed area with a coop that “provides for the free movement” of the fowl.
The coop must be in the rear yard and not visible from the street or adjoining home. If that condition cannot be met, the homeowner must erect a fence. Before a homeowner obtains a permit to keep chickens, all affected parties, including neighbors whose property adjoins the parcel, must give their consent.
Commissioner Pat Mulieri said she would support allowing up to four hens per household. Commissioner Henry Wilson said he would consider the zoning change.
“It’s not something that makes a lot of noise,” Starkey said. “It’s not like a dairy, where you have odor.”
Zoning Administrator Carol Clarke said she would research various ordinances and bring some options for Pasco officials to consider. “It’s interesting when you study the history of these urban livestock restrictions,” she said. “They were originally implemented to keep poor people from moving into neighborhoods, because they didn’t want people who had to grow their own food.”