Ordinance made permanent
There will be no coup necessary by Maitland’s chicken-keeping population, after the City Council voted on Monday to let backyard coops stay roosted in the city on a permanent basis.
The city’s 18-month pilot program of allowing residents to keep a four-fold flock of backyard chickens ended in May, leaving the Council with the decision of whether to keep the program clucking, or send the hens packing. On June 8, the Council voted unanimously to make the program permanent.
“Thank you for letting me keep my chickens,” said Councilwoman Joy Goff-Marcil with a smile after the vote.
Goff-Marcil is one of only six Maitland residents to have applied to the pilot program to house hens in their backyard. According to the city’s Community Development Director Dick Wells, only four of those who have applied are currently still housing chickens, and there have been zero complaints or violations issued since the program started. The newly-minted ordinance limits 50 permits to be issued to house chickens within the city.
Goff-Marcil struggled to find any reason why chicken keeping shouldn’t be allowed in the city. She said her three hens – Fifi, Chicopee and Olive – have become part of the family, just as much as a cat or dog would, since she adopted them last fall.
“They really are pets,” she said. But better than a dog or a cat, she added, they give something back: a plethora of fresh eggs.
Her mother, Hilda Goff, also happily houses her own flock of hens in her backyard.
Her four hens – Irene, Cindy Lou, Lady Bird and Sparkle Plenty – keep her heart and belly happy, she said, keeping her stocked with an average of two eggs a day.
Both women are now welcome to keep their hens as permanent members of the family, after a delayed vote kept them on eggshells for the past month in fear that the program would be canceled.
According to the approved ordinance, potential chicken keepers must still pay $50 to apply for a permit before their chickens can take up roost, and the installed coops are subject to code enforcement scrutiny. But with no reported issues over the past year and a half that the feathered friends have been legal residents, Councilwoman Bev Reponen said chicken keeping in Maitland can be called an ongoing success.
“This was such a controversial issue, and hours and hours were spent on this issue, and then it ends up it's a non-issue,” Reponen said.
“All is well.”