I finally wrote a letter to the county. Proofread and comments please

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by litljenarey, May 28, 2012.

  1. litljenarey

    litljenarey In the Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Venice, Florida
    May 28, 2012

    Dear Commissioner XXXXX;

    I am writing to request that the county allow keeping chickens in unincorporated residential portions of our county. The recent actions of neighboring areas such as the city of Sarasota, Tampa, and Orlando to allow chickens leaves me mystified as to why county residents shouldn’t be allowed to house a few hens for egg production and education.

    I have two little girls, ages 3 and 4. In their preschool class recently the monthly discussion was on animals. With this just ending “National Food Month” in April, naturally the first types of animals they learned about were farm animals. The teacher brought in eggs and taught them about chicks and chickens which she is able to legally keep at her home in Charlotte County. I had attended grammar school in Connecticut and had a similar experience where a teacher brought an incubator into school and we were able to watch chicks hatch and learn about food production. It was one of my favorite memories as a child. My family moved to Altamonte Springs Florida when I was in middle school. I attended Seminole High School in Sanford where, at the time, there were chickens in a yard next to the school. I moved to Charlotte, NC after high school and also lived next door to a house that had chickens in the yard. These were never a nuisance and they were entertaining to watch. All the places I lived were residential neighborhoods and within large cities. When my daughter asked me if she could have a chick for her birthday I assumed it would be fine since we live on the very outskirts of an unincorporated area. I was shocked to find out that we could not have them in our neighborhood. After doing a little research I was extremely surprised to learn that those within Downtown Sarasota can keep chickens. A little more research showed that we could however, keep a small pig (1) or a large loud exotic bird like a Cockatoo which can be larger in size, make more noise at a louder level, and require a longer commitment because they live much longer.

    I have never owned chickens myself. As someone who lived and went to school near people who owned chickens, I can understand the issues addressed when allowing them in a residential neighborhood. I have been to Key West and been chased by roosters. I have been through chicken processing areas of North Carolina in the summer and it was disgusting. However all the issues are already address with other county ordinances; Such as noise (2), the confining of animals (3), and smells (4). These things are not a problem with small amounts of hens if the county residents were to follow the current guidelines for the City of Sarasota residents and this has been proven in other urban areas with a longer history of chicken keeping.

    The movement to be more ecologically minded is everywhere. The stigma attached to chickens as a rural livestock animal has passed in our generation. I grew up watching “Captain Planet” and learning about global warming. I drive a Prius, I watch very little television, I breastfed and used modern cloth diapers my kids, and I read my newspaper on my smartphone. I am not an outlander. I am not considered odd or different. I am a normal, typical 31 year old married educated adult with two kids, a dog, and a 3 bedroom home. Research has been done in some of the largest, most expensive, upscale cities in our country and there are 166 that allow backyard chickens; including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta (5). In fact, the top 10 largest cities in the United States allow chickens (6). Williams-Sonoma (an extremely large upscale store that specializes in kitchen homegoods) has a line of chicken coops which is the only animal-keeping product that they carry.

    I’m tired of worrying that my groceries are tainted with some bacteria that only thrive when thousands of animals are forced to mass produce my food in an overcrowded warehouse. I’m tired of the weekly media story about salmonella, listeria, and E Coli in my prepackaged who-know-how-old food by-product. As consumers, my generation wants to know where their food comes from, to grow it themselves and to enjoy some of the more simple things that previously were considered low income, like sidewalks and bike riding. I don’t want to be a statistic of the “unhealthy American” with high blood pressure, heart disease, and a McDonald’s diet.

    Sarasota County provides all the elements of a forward thinking, cultural community with all the access of large cities but within the small town community. We moved here because of art and cultural programs, farmers markets, museums and beaches. We love the schools here and are very impressed with the innovative programs like Imagination schools. Like any parent, I want to give my children all the opportunities available to them in places like Orlando, or Miami and allow them to be self-sufficient and productive adults. I have taught them to be able to mend a hole in their favorite shirt if it gets torn. We have a small backyard garden where I can grow herbs instead of buying some dried flake food that used to be an herb (I think). We volunteer for the Venice Circus Arts Foundation and the Seabird Sanctuary because we care about the history and preservation of our town. Until now, we have never had a desire that wasn’t fulfilled by some aspect of the local community. It could only make sense in a place like this that we can follow the example of other communities in allowing backyard chickens in our county.


    Thank you for your consideration;

    Jenny Brannon





    (1) “Definition of prohibited livestock”; Sarasota County Ordinances, Municode;
    http://library.municode.com/HTML/11511/level2/APXAZORE_ART10DE.html#APXAZORE_ART10DE_10.2DETE


    (2) “Noise”; Sarasota County Ordinances, Municode;
    http://library.municode.com/HTML/11511/level3/PTIICOOR_CH54ENNARE_ARTVINO.html#PTIICOOR_CH54ENNARE_ARTVINO_S54-151FI


    (3) “Animals at Large”; Sarasota County Ordinances, Municode;
    http://library.municode.com/HTML/11...html#PTIICOOR_CH14AN_ARTIIANCO_S14-41DOCARULA


    (4) “Shelter” “Sustenance”; Sarasota County Ordinances, Municode;
    http://library.municode.com/HTML/11...IANCO.html#PTIICOOR_CH14AN_ARTIIANCO_S14-35DE


    (5) Rueters; “New Pecking Order for US Chickens: Backyard Chicken Coops”, May 15, 2012.

    (6) Mywesternhome; “Percentage of Major US Cities Allowing Urban Hens” December 2011;
    http://billingsbackyardhens.wordpre...ntage-of-major-us-cities-allowing-urban-hens/
     
  2. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    First though is that its way to long. All the stuff about growing up around them an chickens in schools does not really help. Also bringing up Key West an factory farming does not help ether. Nether does the part about cloth diapers, breast feeding an your Prius. Stick to facts about what the laws should be an you could even add a copy of the actual chicken law in Atlanta or other big city.
     
  3. bj taylor

    bj taylor Songster

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    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    truth is they probably won't read something of this length. maybe break it down into bulleted points such as...
    *many counties or cities (list them) surrounding us already encourage residents to enjoy raising chickens & the natural eggs they bring.
    *roosters are not required in order to have eggs so noise is not an issue.
    *chickens when kept cleanly have no odor or other issues that can pose a problem or nuisance to neighbors.
    *etc. to no more than 5 bullets.
    maybe provide a small portfolio for each member of the board showing nice looking coops from simple to elaborate. this helps to dispel pre-concieved ideas about chickens. (a picture is worth a thousand words).
    providing a copy of an ordinance you like is a good idea. it helps them to craft one & helps keep them from being too restrictive.

    good luck
     
  4. DrHoverbottom

    DrHoverbottom Chirping

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    Feb 11, 2011
    I agree with the other posters, you have great information but it is too long. You want something that is easily skimmed. I do a lot of legislative advocacy as part of my work, so I do a fair amount of this type of writing, I would be happy to help you if you like. Just send me a PM :)
     
  5. litljenarey

    litljenarey In the Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Venice, Florida
    Pm sent! Thank you. I am revising for length and content tonight. I will post again tomorrow; shorter and less personal.
     
  6. litljenarey

    litljenarey In the Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Venice, Florida
    Here's my revision. I got more facts and shortened. I'm not sure if it's short enough but I cant figure out how to decrease it more, so ideas would be appreciated.



    May 29, 2012

    Dear Commissioner,

    I am writing to request that the county allow keeping chickens in unincorporated residential portions of our county.
    As a resident of the South Venice neighborhood I have been dismayed to learn that because I live in a RSF3 zoning, I cannot keep a few hens in my backyard, despite the fact that the city of Sarasota allows chickens under conditions less restrictive than those in the unincorporated county. Across the nation many cities and suburbs are revising their laws to allow a few hens for egg production and education. Based on the following factors, please consider the revising of ordinances that currently exclude hens.

    • Research has been done in some of the largest, most expensive, upscale cities in our country and there are 166 that allow backyard chickens; including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta (Rueters; “New Pecking Order for US Chickens: Backyard Chicken Coops”, May 15, 2012.). The top 10 largest cities in the United States allow chickens and 96% of the top 100 largest cities allow them (Mywesternhome blog: cc Newsweek; “Percentage of Major US Cities Allowing Urban Hens” December 2011; http://billingsbackyardhens.wordpre...ntage-of-major-us-cities-allowing-urban-hens/ )
    • Chicken keeping is part of a consumer trend towards more ecologically minded communities. Allowing chickens as a part of a growing demand for sustainable food sources has potential to bring more economic growth from specialty retailers; this has been proven by the popularity of grocery retailers such as Whole Foods, Richards, Choices Natural Market, Sarasota Farmers Market, and Venice Farmers Market. Large chain groceries, like Publix, also offer local and organic selections. The largest retail outlets in the world now carry a variety of self-sustainable food source products including chicken coops. William-Sonoma, a gourmet upscale homegoods retailer now offers chicken coops and beehive units in addition to their collections of small appliances and kitchenware (www.williams-sonoma.com). Walmart, the world’s most successful retailer, offers 63 various coop designs under the “pets” designation (www.walmart.com).
    • Our children can be greatly impacted by encouraging them to know where their food comes from and local food sources can influence their future eating habits. According to the USDA preschool roundtable, which accounts for the current regulations for school lunch programs and food education in Sarasota County preschools, “early experience with food and eating is crucial in the development of food acceptance patterns, both in terms of the acquisition of food preferences and the regulation of food intake” (http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/food/pdfs/roundtable_references_preschool.pdf). This states that children form lifelong emotional bonds with food at an early age and are more likely to reject unfamiliar foods. What could possibly be more familiar than your own backyard? Our health and our children’s health benefits over their lifetime when the exposure to fruits, vegetables and eggs grown in our own backyard can become more recognizable than “golden arches”.
    • Common concerns are not a problem with a small amount of hens if the county residents were to follow the current guidelines for the City of Sarasota residents as these rules and regulations have been proposed and proven based on success in other urban areas with a longer history of chicken keeping. Current ordinances in Sarasota County already address complaints; Such as noise, the confining of animals, and smells. (http://library.municode.com). Sarasota County could easily adopt the City regulations towards chicken keeping.
    Sarasota County provides all the elements of a forward thinking, cultural community with all the access of large cities but within a small town community. We moved here because of art and cultural programs, farmers markets, museums and beaches. We love the schools here and are very impressed with the innovative programs like Imagination schools. We volunteer for the Venice Circus Arts Foundation and the Seabird Sanctuary because we care about the history and preservation of our town. Until now, we have never had a desire that wasn’t fulfilled by some aspect of the local community. It could only make sense in a place like this that we can follow the example of other communities in allowing backyard chickens in our county.
    Thank you for your consideration;
    Jenny Brannon
     
  7. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Songster

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    May 26, 2011
    Roanoke County, Virginia
    I would cut out the paragraph about how many stores offer organic egg choices as it undercuts your argument for needing your own chickens. Do keep the part about how many places offer coops...that was good!

    In the part about children I would add something about the rise in childrens health problems, and how controlling the chickens food can help, for example as part of a soy or gluton free diet used for allergies, autism, and some behavioral problems, too, I think.

    I do not think the letter is too long and I think you did a great job of talking about the places that do allow chickens. Instead of just a link, include some examples of oridances from other places, or include them in an attachment. They less work they have to do the more likely they will agree to consider it! Make it easy for them!

    I would state that existing rooster regulations would not be affected, that hens are quieter than dogs or parrots and less likely to roam and reproduce than cats. Also address that chicken waste can be used as fertilizer where dog and cat waste cannot.

    Oops, i'm making your letter longer! Well, it is all worth saying! And look at the thread for Deltona: it has a link to an orlando sentinnel article you can link to. Orlando is starting on a trial basis and one of the commissioners is in the trial!
     
  8. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Songster

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    May 26, 2011
    Roanoke County, Virginia
    PS. Love love love the ending! Very positive!
     
  9. litljenarey

    litljenarey In the Brooder

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    May 8, 2012
    Venice, Florida
    hahahaha see, so many positives its next to impossible to shorten!! I like the thoughts about food allergies. I have a friend with a child who has some severe allergies. Maybe I can convince her to write a letter focused on the children's health issues.
    I found an excellence source that relates educational animals, like classroom pets and 4H projects, in childhood that directly linked to increased nuturing, self esteem, responsibility, and educational level in adulthood. Unfortunately it would have been another whole letter in itself! I do plan to bring it to the next county commissioners meeting though.

    Your right about the stores, I'm cutting that. Adding an attachment is a great idea too.



    I didn't know one of the commissioners is in the Orlando trials. That's really encouraging. I hope it all works out well and they allow everyone to participate. :)
     
  10. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Is this a single commissioner county or a board of commissioners?
     

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