Thursday, March 8, 2018

The “Urban Chicken” in this City of Lake Worth is getting cooked.

With the looming elections on March 13th, just
16 days away, this would make for an interesting candidate question: “What is your position
on the urban chicken?”

If you didn’t know, our Urban Chicken groupies here in the City of Lake Worth always held up the City of Stuart as forward-thinking and on the cutting edge of “backyard chickens”. Well, there was very bad news last year for the all the fans of backyard chickens from Stuart, news from the TCPalm:

“No backyard chickens in Stuart after one commissioner rescinds support”

STUART — In late June, residents of single-family homes were told they could have up to two backyard chickens.
     That’s no longer the case.
     Commissioner Jeffrey Krauskopf on July 10 backtracked his approval, tipping the scale against backyard chickens, which had been narrowly approved last month.

Let’s take a look back. History of the ‘urban chicken’ here in our little City of Lake Worth.

Thankfully, this was an idea a former Lake Worth City commissioner kept “cooped” up: The Urban Chicken.

First, is raising chickens legal in the City? No. Raising chickens, aka “Urban Chickens” IS NOT allowed in the City Lake Worth.

Do you have a “chicken problem” in your neighborhood? Contact the Citys Code Enforcement.
Image from the Lake Worth Chickens Facebook page which then-citizen Ryan Maier founded. Mr. Maier later became District 4 Commissioner Maier in 2015 and opted not to run for re-election in March 2017.

The Urban Chicken idea is not a new one. In 2009 the City came very close to allowing chickens, ducks, and bees to be farmed for ‘personal’ use. If you can believe it, there was even a mayoral candidate (Rachel Waterman) who thought the Park of Commerce would be great for a large chicken breeding/egg production facility.

For some perspective, here is a blog post from the inimitable Tom McGow on April 18, 2009 titled, tongue-in-cheek, Farm Living Is The Life For Me. . . In the image below from Mr. McGow’s blog, notice item ‘C’ from the Lake Worth City Commission agenda back then:
“. . . fowl ordinance to permit chickens”

Then-commissioner Cara Jennings (2006–2010) was a big proponent of raising chickens. Below is one of Tom McGow’s classic photoshops, note the image of Cara Jennings (top right).

It’s funny but not really. Chickens in an urban environment are a major public health issue, especially so for young children.

Besides chickens needing much maintenance and coop cleaning, chickens spread viruses/bacteria and also attract predators. Raising poultry in an urban environment is a serious public health issue. In a City that is still plagued with blighted properties it doesn’t need one more thing to regulate. In fact, chickens are out of the hen house already as many readers can attest by sightings in their neighborhoods.

Why the big deal about raising chickens in Lake Worth besides the health, safety, and code issues? Because it’s a really bad idea that just won’t go away. Even after all these years there are still some in the City that want to make it legal to raise chickens in their backyard on the pretense that eggs are too expensive at Publix. Below are excerpts from a 2011 Post article about the “clandestine chicken army” that still struts.

     “There’s a whole clandestine chicken army out there,” said former City Commissioner Cara Jennings, who mother-henned the 2009 effort but is lying low this time.

and. . . 

     Freelance hairstylist Ryan Maier, 31, started a Facebook group called Lake Worth Chickens recently because of his interest in growing his own food.
     “I had never been on Facebook,” he said. But I saw what was going on in Egypt, so I decided to do something. [emphasis added]

Thankfully, the anti-chicken forces rallied. . .

     The anti-chicken organizer, Karri Casper, wrote that Lake Worth Chickens is just a subversive effort to stop development of the city and turn Lake Worth into farmland.
     “This is another plot from the Anarchists to distract us from the critical issues at hand,” the group’s Facebook page says. “For criminy sakes, this is NOT a rural area.

It would be reassuring if — once and for all — the urban chicken idea gets cooked for good. Especially considering all the important issues that face this City such as infrastructure, potholes, and fixing all our sidewalks. So. How to ‘cook’ the “Urban Chicken” idea once and for all?

At one the upcoming neighborhood candidate debates prior to the elections on March 13th ask all the candidates this question:

“What is your position on the
‘Urban Chicken’?”