We will be HAPPY to help you with any materials necessary to make your case before the HOA for changing their bylaws. Of course, the tone of your presentation as well as the support of your neighbors and friends in your community is key. We were approached at the Food Revolution event in Rockledge by THE PRESIDENT of one of the Merritt Island HOAs who wanted backyard chickens!!! I was SO EXCITED to meet him because urban chickens are certainly becoming a more common element for families of all economic strata.
I think that one of the main issues in the bylaws is the DEFINITION OF LIVESTOCK. Should a chicken REALLY be equated with a cow? Certainly CATTLE would be more difficult to maintain as backyard production animals than CHICKENS. While we were doing some research for changing code here in Brevard County, we came across this STATUTE FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA defining a DOMESTICATED ANIMAL:
UNDER ARTICLE 10, the State of Florida defines a chicken (poultry) on the same level as a DOMESTIC dog or cat. What makes this nice for us is that it defines most animals that are common for homesteading, including SHEEP, which we are trying to maintain on our property for 12 months out of the year instead of just the 6 month loophole that currently exists.
If you need copies of MUNICODE, I can provide those for you too. Tallahassee allows chickens AND roosters. St. Augustine has a lenient city chicken policy. Even in Brevard County, the City of Melbourne (which has about 45,000 residents) allows backyard chickens with NO PROBLEM (they DO have a permit process if necessary).
I think that some of the biggest obstacles that you will have are: property line setbacks, coop type, food storage to prevent rodents and possibly, the number of birds allowed. (we are not asking for roosters in residential neighborhoods so this should not really be a concern for you either)
WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND is for you to find out the AVERAGE LOT SIZE in your HOA (maybe reference largest lot / smallest lot). With our formula of 2 birds per .1 acres, how many birds would ACTUALLY be in your neighbor's backyard? Would you be willing to help moderate any issues that should arise if this were to be approved? Would you help re-home any accidental roosters that might come in a batch of chicks? If you could not get the 75% (I don't have ANY idea about what kind of support you could realistically expect in an HOA) would the board be willing to allow say 10 individuals to have chickens in your community? Orlando is allowing limited permission (VERY limited) for backyard chickens as a test program.
I have a vintage car that I like to tinker with and I leave my muddy shoes on the porch so I have NEVER even CONSIDERED living in an HOA community (A friend of mine who lives in Viera was recently cited for leaving her children's wet shoes on the porch overnight - she got a LETTER about it! It would REALLY BOTHER ME that someone was looking that closely at my house) BUT, to each his own.
Avid Homestead can also provide you with a ready-made petition form that is easy to read and allows for comments and contact information so that you can get your 75% and have the supporters come to the board meeting. We would also be happy to address the board or meet with you if you need additional help. I also have a very nice summary that you may use with the HOA board that addresses many chicken concerns and "fears". It is HERE at the website: http://www.avidhomestead.com/chicken-fact-and-fiction-why-backyard-poultry.aspx
Thanks so much! Let me know if we can lend you any additional help!!! Best, Margaret
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