More hen-raising permits given out

Permit-holders attend educational class Thursday night

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter , Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The city council approved an urban chicken ordinance that allows people to raise hens on their property after completing a course, but only 300 people will be given permits. Thursday night, the last of the 300 showed up for their classes.

The people who showed up Thursday night are having their chicken applications processed now. If they meet the qualifications they'll be able to raise chickens in their backyard, which until recently wasn't allowed on most properties in Jacksonville.

They all lined up to get the last of the chicken permits offered in Jacksonville. Trey Kirwin was one of the many people in line who waited to apply for a chicken permit.

"I think having backyard chickens is a cool urban movement and I think it's really good for our children to understand where our food comes from," said Kirwin.

A packed house filled the county agricultural extension office Thursday night to take a class learning how to raise chickens in the city limits.

"This is a limited ordinance to only allow folks a few hens in their backyard, but there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm both in Jacksonville and around the state for this," said Michael Davis, Duval County extension director.

Some people in the group will get the last of the 300 permits the city is issuing to raise chickens and the rest will go on a waiting list.

Lisa Henry also waited in line for a permit.

"If we can have naturally raised chickens in our backyard where we can control the quality, I think that's critically important in this day and age," said Henry.

Despite the ordinance, some individual neighborhoods have opted out. That's why some people's applications will be denied, but those on the waiting list will eventually get their permit.

Genora Crain-Orth is an urban chicken advocate who believe this is an very important ordinance.

"This ordinance is important because people have different reasons for wanting chickens in their backyard. For me I have 6-year-old at home. It's important for him to understand where his food comes from to take care of living creature to understand what it means," said Crain-Orth.

The limit on permits in the city is 300, but there is talk that if there's enough that number could be increased.

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