Chickens coming soon to Tampa backyards? Maybe. listen03/15/12 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa City Council is considering an ordinance that would loosen regulations on keeping chickens in backyards. At a regular meeting this morning, residents spoke on both sides of the argument.
Amanda Matthews supports relaxing regulations on backyard chicken ownership.
â€œTheyâ€™re a great source of more nutritious and humanely produced eggs. And theyâ€™re a great opportunity to teach our children where their food comes from, responsibility and stewardship.â€
The measure before Tampa council members could reduce the 200-foot rule. It requires chicken owners to keep their birds at least that far from their neighbor. But that idea doesnâ€™t sit well with Pete Johnson who asked council members to consider an ordinance with stronger regulations.
â€œThey do have diseases. They do spread the West Nile disease. They do spread mites; all sorts of problems. Being an HIV patient, I am very, very careful of this type of situation and I do feel that it is a public health situation.â€
Morris Flood considers himself something of an expert on chickens. He said claims that free range chickens present a health risk are unwarranted.
â€œLoose chickens would have less chance of being an enemy than caged chickens because theyâ€™ve got thousands of chickens in buildings. And you go in there and youâ€™ve got to use a mask, you canâ€™t work, feathers have dust and get in your lungs, gives you lung cancer.â€
Though Tampa currently has laws in place that make it difficult for homeowners with small backyards to own chickens â€“ most of the homes in the city â€“ they also have a tendency to look the other way. The code is only enforced if a complaint is made. Thatâ€™s exactly what happened to John Rivera, who was told to get rid of the chickens by code enforcement. He misses his chickens.
â€œAnd that kind of left us in a situation where we had to give up our children, our friends because we donâ€™t have children together. All we really have is our chickens, our dog and our cat and a little turtle. These guys would give you joy in the morning because you know they got up at a certain time and they depended on you to open the gates so they could get inside to their roost â€“ and roost. They produced good eggs for you and they were friendly. They didnâ€™t destroy anything; they didnâ€™t cause any harm. And they didnâ€™t go out into anyoneâ€™s yard; never were loose. None of my neighbors ever complained about them.â€
Council members did not vote on the measure after hearing from a handful of speakers. Instead, the matter will be taken up at a workshop on April 26. Public comment will be accepted at that meeting.