Chickens now legal on property in Jacksonville

City Council passed law allowing urban chickens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville has issued its first permit allowing people to keep chickens in their back yard.

City Council passed a law allowing hens at homes last year. The planning department will issue 300 permits as part of an 18-month pilot program.

It's aimed at giving people a way to have fresh eggs at home, while teaching kids about agriculture.

The first permits were issued Tuesday. One local woman has been pushing for this for years.

"I think it's important for people to have a connection to their food, to be able to teach their children where it comes from and the responsibility for taking care of that animal," said Lauren Trad, who feels vindicated now that she can finally have chickens in her back yard legally.

Trad started pushing to legalize backyard chickens in Jacksonville a few years ago after she found out she was breaking the law by housing chickens in the back yard of her home on the Southside.

"Once I found out it was illegal, I started a petition and was contacting city council representatives hoping to change the ordinance," said Trad. 

City Councilman Doyle Carter, who helped Trad push the legislation through, points out there are a few neighborhoods around Jacksonville exempt and still don't allow chickens.

"You can get your permit from the planning department once you get your training done," said Carter. "They'll tell you at the very beginning whether it's one of the ones that's exempt and then the neighborhoods that have deed restrictions."

Those interested in getting a permit should be aware there are multiple regulations.

Chickens will have to be kept a certain distance away from neighbors, and there's a limit of five chickens for people with under one-and-a-half acres of land.

Also, roosters are not allowed under the program -- only hens.

There are classes that have to be taken before obtaining a permit to raise chickens. If interested, contact the city's agriculture office at 904-255-7450.

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