Windermere council pecks apart chicken ordinance

The ordinance would have allowed residents to keep and raise backyard chickens under certain conditions.

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  • | 11:49 a.m. August 19, 2020
  • Southwest Orange
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A backyard chicken program won’t be in the cards for Windermere residents anytime soon.

Town Council members voted unanimously during their Aug. 11 meeting to quash an ordinance upon first reading that would allow residents to keep and raise chickens in their backyard.

Under the proposed ordinance — if it had been approved — town residents could have up to four hens so long as they were kept in a chicken coop or enclosure. A permit would have been required, and residents would not have been allowed to slaughter chickens on the premises nor sell their eggs.

Council Member Chris Sapp said he had been approached by a few people who asked if there was potential for a backyard chicken program in town. However, most residents who spoke about the chicken ordinance were opposed.

“When we first went into this, I guess we all thought there would be a little bit different reaction to it, and that’s why we looked into it,” Sapp said.

Reeta Casey, a Realtor and Windermere resident, said allowing chickens in residential areas could harm property sales and values. She said if the ordinance was passed, potential buyers would need to be alerted of the possibility of someone having chickens nearby.

“That could make an impact on the decision of them to even see a house,” Casey said. “When you’re selling a house, you also want to attract the most buyers because that’s what helps you raise the value of your selling price, and we all want top dollar for our houses. I’m concerned that that ordinance will affect the selling options — and eventually selling prices — of all of us as homeowners in Windermere.” 

Casey added that with many small lot sizes in town, the ordinance also could result in those residents requesting variances to have chickens on their properties.

“That also puts a burden on code enforcement, and a lot of time with situations like we have now, if they’re busy it’s going to put the burden on homeowners and neighbors to have to call somebody in if the chickens get out or whatever the case may be,” Casey said. 

Resident Jim Salmon agreed, adding that the current regulations have worked fine for the 20 years he and his wife have been in Windermere.

“In trying to find the positive that this ordinance provides to our established community as a whole, and the only thing I can come up with it allows a chicken to lay an egg,” Salmon said.

However, resident Douglas Kegler favored the ordinance even though raising chickens wasn’t something he would be doing.

“It is something people like to do,” Kegler said. “It’s sad they’re not really seen as pets, but with the run and the coop that’s in the ordinance, they do become pets for people that have them. It’s not just for the eggs … it’s actually more expensive to have them for the eggs, but it’s a nice thing to do. Families that do it really enjoy it with their children.”

Council Member Liz Andert said although she thinks keeping and raising backyard chickens is a nice thing for people to do, the character of the town is not appropriate for doing so.

“This is a fine activity, and I don’t know that anyone on council is necessarily opposed to the raising of backyard chickens,” Andert said. “There are a lot of benefits. … My concern is that, ‘Is this the right place to conduct that activity?’ That’s the standard to which I’m holding it. … I just don’t feel like it fits in the character of the town of Windermere at this time.”



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