SAFETY HARBOR — City leaders are making it clear: Chickens must go somewhere else to roost.
In a 5-0 decision Monday night, the Safety Harbor City Commission rejected a proposed city law that would have allowed residents to have chickens as pets.
"The thought of one of my neighbors getting chickens ...," said Commissioner Mary Lynda Williams. "Having either the odor or the clucking. … I could not, in all honesty, be in favor of this."
Mayor Andy Steingold agreed and said that it would pit neighbors against one another. Also, he said he hasn't been "bombarded" by residents wanting to have chickens as pets.
"What would be next?" Steingold asked. "You can keep one cow on your property, then you can have organic milk?"
Commissioners agreed that Tammy Vrana, a member of the city's Planning and Zoning Board, was correct in bringing city officials' attention that there was unregulated cock-a-doodle-doo-ing amongst them.
"Tammy did the right thing to bring it forward," Williams said. "There's just no way I can support this."
Under the proposed ordinance, Safety Harbor residents would have been able to keep up to four hens on their property. The henhouse or coop would have to be in a back or side yard, and the area where the chickens lived would have to be screened with opaque fencing.
The sale of eggs or other products derived from the chickens would have been prohibited. Odors from the chickens, chicken manure and other related substances could not be detectable at the home's property line.
Roosters begin sounding their "cock-a-doodle-doo" alarm at the crack of dawn. Therefore, they would not have been allowed.
In addition, the ordinance would not have superseded the covenants of residential homeowner associations, which often prohibit chickens, cows or any farm animals. Between 70 and 80 percent of all Safety Harbor single-family homes are guided by a covenant, said Ron Rinzivillo, a city senior planner.
Commissioner Nancy Besore was all for the idea of chickens until the majority of the residents who contacted her about the proposed ordinance opposed it. Besore said she went with the majority.
Several residents spoke at the meeting against the ordinance. They said that while roosters crow, hens cluck and that clucking is just as audible as the early morning crowing.
But resident Don Lavallee challenged the commission's thinking about the barnyard fowl. He said chickens are far safer than dogs.
"Hens have never chased anybody, never bit anybody and never peed on anybody's yard," Lavallee said. "How can you allow dogs and not my gentle hens?"
Contact Demorris A. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.