Urban chickens to land in FL

Council amends city code to allow up to five hens per property


RoosterHC0609Clint Riese
News Editor

Forest Lake is becoming feather-friendly.

In 2011, the City Council amended the city code to allow for the keeping of domestic pigeons. On Monday night, the council opened the city to urban chickens.

Also known as backyard chickens, these birds have flown the farmyard coop: The concept of raising chickens within city limits is growing quickly throughout the country.

“There’s quite the movement out there in urban areas regarding urban farming, sustainable food sources, things like that,” Community Development Director Doug Borglund told the council Monday night.

“One of the movements that’s going on in the metropolitan area, and has been for a few years now, is the idea of allowing backyard chickens, or ‘urban’ chickens, as a food source, as part of a way to gain access to organic foods.”

The requested city code amendment landed on the council’s desk following lengthy review by the planning commission. That group voted 6-1 to recommend the ordinance allowing the chickens, but that vote came after three meetings over a six-month period.

Chickens were previously allowed on properties with more than five acres. The new ordinance, approved 4-1 by the council, allows owners of smaller properties to keep up to five hens, with several conditions. The animals must be kept on a single-family property. Coops and pens must be enclosed, meet existing set-back requirements for accessory buildings and be located in a backyard. Applicants must pay a one-time $50 fee and are subject to inspection.

Though council members raised a few concerns, Borglund said he does not expect many feathers to be ruffled. In fact, he said, chicken ownership can have economical and educational value. It is not a hobby that people will take up on a whim and then abandon, he said.

Similarly, the city did not take up the matter without confidence that interest exists, Borglund said.

“This is a growing trend, a growing interest among our residents,” he said. “As a staff, we have heard from folks that live in the community that have interest in this topic.”

Councilman Mike Freer voted against the ordinance. He felt the number of chickens allowed should related to property size.

  • http://www.ftlhenproject.org/ Fort Lauderdale Hen Project

    We are trying to have the ordinance amended in Fort Lauderdale to allow hens. Please support us at http://www.ftlhenproject.org/
    Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FtlHenProject
    Sign the petition at

  • http://www.EricLangness.com Eric Langness

    I fully support private property rights (owning chickens on your land) so long as it does not become a nuisance to neighboring properties.

    The quote from Forest Lake City Community Development Director Doug Borglund that says “…as part of a way to gain access to organic foods.” is absolutely naive. Organic is clearly defined by the USDA and I seriously doubt many urban properties are ‘organic’. Natural (less strict guidelines) is a better term but remains misleading.

    • Joe Public

      Not matter the subject, you just have to disagree with something

      • http://www.EricLangness.com Eric Langness

        So, for you facts don’t matter?

  • J. Umbergher

    This is awesome!

  • http://none Joy

    Eric, an attack on city staff over an irrelevant point like the definition of the word “organic” is missing the point. This article is about creating an ordinance that allows chickens in backyards. My family contacted the city on two separate occasions on this item. On both occasions they were courteous and well-informed. They listened, brought the issue to the decision-makers and in the end the ordinance was approved. The city did a great job and should be complimented.

    • http://www.EricLangness.com Eric Langness

      He used the term to describe why this will be a positive to ‘sell’ the position he’s taken on the issue and that fact is untrue. I noted in my statement that I agree with the position the city took but I also believe in using facts when giving a position. Many people that choose to maintain a ‘healthy’ lifestyle via organic foods would understand and agree that typical city lots are far from organic. Educate yourself before you blindly support government bureaucrat statements.

  • Give up

    Give it a rest Eric! He inadvertently used the word organic. Who cares? How is that an issue? Just take a day off from bashing everyone. I’m pretty sure this Doug guy didn’t have anything sinister in mind when he dared to utter the phrase that doth offend thou.

    • http://www.EricLangness.com Eric Langness

      It would have been left to a simple educational point had no one responded with such absurdity.