Leesburg leaders approve residential chicken program



LEESBURG, Fla. - Leesburg city commissioners passed an ordinance amendment Monday evening that will allow homeowners to keep up to 15 chickens in their backyards.

A residential chicken plan was approved by commissioners during its first reading in February. The measure passed in a final vote at a meeting Monday evening.

But city leaders received several complaints about the proposed plan before the vote. Some people think 15 chickens is too many, while others believe chickens don't belong in residential neighborhoods.

"If you're a farmer, it fits in perfectly," Commissioner Jay Hurley said.

Hurley said he did not support a change to a city ordinance that allows homeowners to raise the chickens in residential communities. Residents have expressed concerns about the noise, but officials said it's just roosters that are loud.

"Roosters are prohibited. Chickens can remain somewhat quiet in nature. Roosters like to crow," city spokesman Robert Sargent said.

Supporters of the plan said the chickens won't be a nuisance. Resident Tom Russell thinks he can tolerate a neighbor with a hen house.

"I think the average people will take it. Especially the older people who have been here for some time," Russell said.

Hurley is certain there will be a lot of complaints about the chickens if the measure passes.

"If you're going to have 15 chickens, there will be some moments when there's going to be a lot of clucking," Hurley said. "It's a nuisance is what it's going to boil down to."

Lake County officials passed their own chicken ordinance last year, and the city of Orlando has a limited backyard chicken program as well.