WALDO – As Jim Hamby’s daughter leaves to go to college, he will not worry about having an empty nest at home. In fact, his nest will be full –– of feathers.
Hamby plans to have chickens and maybe even a goat on his property. Thanks to an ordinance passed by the Waldo City commission, residents of Waldo will now be able to house two chickens, one goat and one beehive on their land.
Hamby works at Shands at the University of Florida as an IT specialist of radiation oncology, but when he gets home to his three-acre property, he will become a farmer, he said.
“I want to do a little farming, but not the 6 in the morning to the 6 at night stuff,” he said. “Raising chickens will be fun for me and my wife.”
Hamby was one of two residents to request the right to raise domestic animals on their properties. The ordinance was discussed in October, and was unanimously passed Tuesday.
“When I went to City Hall to see if I could have these chickens, they said there couldn’t be any farm animals raised in the city,” he said. “I thought to myself ‘but this is Waldo!’”
When his daughter leaves home to attend Santa Fe College, Hamby hopes to have two chickens and one goat live on his property, he said. Hamby’s wife, Stephanie Priutt, convinced him to do it.
“This house is my wife’s little castle,” he said. “She loves animals and is kind of a country girl. It just made sense to raise them.”
The ordinance mandates that chicken coops should be placed a minimum of 10 feet from the rear and side property lines and a minimum of 40 feet from any residential home on adjacent properties. Chickens and goats must be kept in fenced areas, and chickens should be kept within the coop from dusk until dawn.
Beekeepers must be registered with the State of Florida and adhere to the Best Management Practices set forth by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Chickens and goats are not allowed to roam beyond their fenced areas, and no type of animal is allowed to be kept in any front yard.
Commission members said they wanted to ensure that no animals traveled on to other parcels of land. City Commissioner Rodney Estes thought of unusual methods to deter owners from letting their animals out of their properties.
“If my neighbor’s chicken roams in my yard, can I eat it?” he asked.
Hamby said the city government needs to set rules to protect the health and safety of Waldo citizens.
“We don’t want chickens running through people’s houses like they are from the ‘Beverly Hillbillies,’” he said.
If there is a violation, neighbors of the potential offender must call City Hall to report it. A city staff member will then go to the property to assess if a violation has occurred. The property owner would then receive education on how to raise these animals correctly, city planner Laura Dedenbach said.
Residential areas with low density, medium density and in the city center are now permitted to raise these domestic animals for nonprofit use. The commercial raising of these animals is only permitted for youth projects, such as with the Future Farmers of America.
Dedenbach said agricultural properties would not be affected.
“This ordinance is really pertaining to small residential lots only,” she said.
All three types of animals are permitted to live on the same property. Hamby said he hopes to eventually get each type of animal to expand his miniature farm.
“We will treat these chickens right, and then, if my wife allows me, we will eat them,” he said. “It really just depends on how attached she becomes to these chickens.”
He said he is delighted that Waldo’s City Commission decided to pass this ordinance, and that the city is a great place to live.
Hamby will continue to build the new coop that will house his newest residents.
“I guess the older you get, the more self-sufficient you want to be,” he said. “We are not trying to live only off the land or take ourselves out of society, but I would like to come home from work, tend my garden, raise my chickens, and then just relax.”
Waldo welcomes chickens, goats and bees
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