Code Violation - Lake County, FL

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by sayhill, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. sayhill

    sayhill New Egg

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    I just received a code violation in Lake County, FL for having two chickens, which I've had for six months. Someone reported my neighbor's rooster and the code enforcement officer saw our chicken coop and wrote us up too. I did a little research before getting them and did not see any restrictions. The notice said chickens are not a permitted use for my zone and I needed to remove them within 14 days or try to re-zone my property. After receiving the notice, I did some more in-depth reading of the ordinances and still did not see anything precluding me from having chickens. The code officer left his number on the notice and after multiple calls, we have still not been able to get in touch with him. I called the enforcement office this morning to ask the county's rule on chickens. I asked for the code section where it "specifically says chickens are not allowed." I was basically told that since chickens are not specifically listed as a permitted use, then it is not a permitted use. I told the person if that is how they are looking at it, then there are a lot of things that should not be permitted as they are not "specifically listed." Vegetable gardens are not specifically listed, so I'm surprised I didn't get a code violation for that one too [​IMG]. I live outside the city limits, so we are under the county rules. I called the city code office and confirmed they allow chickens. The person I spoke to was surprised the county does not allow it.

    I am going to argue that they have no basis to require me to remove my chickens. I think a reasonable person should be able to read the ordinance and understand what is and is not allowed. Has anyone had any success fighting a code violation where the code is silent on an issue? My next step is to determine the process for contesting a violation. The website was not helpful at all, but I want to wait to call back until I talk with my lawyer friend.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Sounds to me like you have a great arguement. Are there farms further out in the county? Will they be held to the same standard? Were there any complaints of noise or odor for the rooster's owners? Can you use the "pets" arguement? Keep researching and asking questions and try not to make anyone mad enough to add the chicken exclusion to the law! Good luck!
     
  3. sayhill

    sayhill New Egg

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    I am not sure about the zoning of any other farms further out in the county. Chickens are allowed if you are zoned "agricultural." The two surrounding neighborhoods/areas are actually zoned agricultural - one of which is literally 10 feet away from my chicken coop! We believe the original complaint was about the noise my neighbor's rooster makes. I was told that there is possible legislation in the works to allow up to three chickens in residential areas, but who knows how long that will take. I am going to approach the problem by inquiring about the status of the law and seeing what I can do to get it passed. I certainly don't want to hurt the chances of passing an exclusion by being a difficult person.
     
  4. XavCas

    XavCas Out Of The Brooder

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    I live here too, and as far as I know.. I am allowed to keep my roosters and hens. I do live kinda away from the " city " though.
     
  5. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Many (not all) zoning ordinances have a section (usually way up front, but sometimes at the end) that basically says that if a use is not specifically listed, it is not allowed. Here is the specific wording in my city's zoning code. "Land shall be used only for lawful uses. A lawful use is one that is permitted by this Code and is
    not prohibited by law. Part 3, Land Use, sets forth the uses permitted by this Code." Note that for a use to be lawful, it must be affirmatively permitted.
     
  6. sayhill

    sayhill New Egg

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    Dec 14, 2012
    I cannot find a statement similar to that in my county’s code (although it's possible I overlooked it). The closest things I found were:

    3.01.01 Generally. The purpose of this section is to describe the specific uses and restrictions that apply to the zoning districts established in these regulations. These regulations are intended to allow Development and use of property only in compliance with the goals, objectives and policies of Lake County as expressed in the Lake County Comprehensive Plan.

    3.01.05 Similar uses. Other similar uses, not specifically listed and not more obnoxious or detrimental than the uses listed in Subsection 3.01.03, may be Permitted in the Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural, and Community Facility Zoning Districts after review and approval by the County Manager or designee.

    http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=11115

    When I asked the code enforcement officer why I was in violation, his response was:
    “General agriculture and non-intensive agriculture is not an allowed use in the R-3 zoning district. Please see the definitions from the LDRs below in reference to agriculture and poultry…

    Agriculture. The use of the Land and/or water for agricultural purposes, including farming, the keeping of ratites, dairying and pasturage, apiculture, aquaculture, horticulture, floriculture, viticulture, Silviculture, animal and poultry husbandry, and the necessary Accessory Uses for packing, treating, or storing the produce raised thereon. Agriculture includes normal agricultural operations such as, but not limited to, Site preparation, Clearing, fencing, contouring, soil preparation, plowing, planting, harvesting, Construction of Access Roads, placement of bridges and culverts, and extraction of stumps and submerged logs.
    Farm Product. Any plant, animal or insect useful to humans, including but not limited to any product derived therefrom.
    Husbandry. The care and management of domestic animals, including birds and livestock.
    Livestock. "Livestock" shall include, but not be limited to, all animals of the equine, ratite, bovine or swine class, including goats, sheep, mules, horses, hogs, cattle, ostriches and other grazing animals. The term livestock shall specifically exclude exotic animals."

    Basically, the definitions of agriculture, farm product, and husbandry could also be used against my dog if a person wanted to get technical. Also, I didn’t think chickens were grazing animals that would cause them to fall under the livestock category. It seems strange that an ostrich would be specifically listed as livestock, but not something as common as a chicken. I am going to argue that my hens are pets and not an agricultural use. The main purpose of getting them was for the enjoyment of owning them. The code does not specifically permit pets in residential areas or even define what a “pet” is. I’ve been talking to another member of the forum who lives in my county and is zoned the same as me. When they called the county code enforcement, they were told chickens were ok because they are pets, not livestock. The only restrictions given to them were no roosters and you could not have a chicken farm. When I informed code enforcement about this, they were not too concerned about the inconsistent information being given out. When it comes down to it, I can’t really prove anything because there is nothing in writing and this other member did not get the name of who they spoke with. Plus there is no way I am getting this member involved because I don't want them cited too!
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  7. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Find out who on your city council would/might be supportive of small flocks of backyard chickens and speak to them about the ambiguities of the code. Go ahead and mention the other person and what they were told, and how that is pretty much your same intent. And state your reason for not naming them. Ask what can be done to clarify the code and remove the ambiguities, specifically to allow animals that are kept in a nuisance free manner.

    Offer to provide examples of other city codes that allow backyard flocks.
     
  8. sayhill

    sayhill New Egg

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    Dec 14, 2012
    I've been told by multiple people at the code enforcement office that my county is trying to make owning chickens specifically allowed within the next year. I don't know how involved the commissioners are at this point. I have a hearing in February because the code enforcement officer was not at all willing to work with me or listen to my argument against the code. Which I guess I get it, he really does not have that authority. I'm worried that pushing the issue before my hearing will have a negative impact.
     
  9. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I was in the exact same situation.

    The village bylaws stated:


    It is the objective of Council to encourage the continued development of the Village of
    Petitcodiac as a distinct and balanced community, providing housing, employment, and
    a full range of amenities for residents of all ages. It is their intention that the village will
    continue to grow and increase its population. Development required to stimulate and
    accommodate growth will be managed to maximize efficiency and economy, while
    protecting the environment. To this end Council intends:
    • To encourage residential development and provide a full range of housing types to accommodate current citizens and new residents;
    • To encourage commercial development, particularly, in the downtown core and around the Route 1 Interchange;
    • To encourage the growth of existing industries and zone lands for the development of new industry;
    • To maintain and enhance institutional and recreational facilities, particularly, the concentration of institutional and recreation uses developed on the north side of corey Avenue;
    • To facilitate continued agricultural and forestry operations;

    Nothing was said about keeping farm animals, and we lived a mere block from a cow farm.

    Anyway.. Long story short we sold our house and moved.
     
  10. tampasailor

    tampasailor New Egg

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    It is probably the Rooster that is annoying your neighbor and prompting the code violation. No one wants a rooster crowing next door at 5 AM and many people get very disturbed. If a dog barks however, it's often a warning that someone or something is lurking and its appreciated by knowledgeable people. I found homes for my roosters and now have 5 hens that free range in the garden with a 6' fence. They can fly over but usually don't feel safe and come back home. Now 6 months and no complaints. We are in a suburb of Tampa and zoning forbids but only if someone complains.

    Many City's now allow backyard chickens but forbid Roosters for obvious reasons. Too bad there is not a No Crow Pill~!
     

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