Palm Coast City Council Workshop 6/13/2023

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Today the Palm Coast City Council heard a presentation about backyard chickens and their pros and cons. This workshop was an opportunity for the City Council to hear about all of the pros and cons regarding the subject of backyard chickens. The Council heard a presentation that covered not just the pros and cons of allowing the birds in the city limits, but they also heard how other municipalities handled the subject of backyard chickens in the state of Florida.

This presentation included looking at comparison results of other cities in the Central Florida area, with stats like, 7 out of 10 municipalities require permits for backyard chickens, no roosters or male hens, must be kept in a coop or pen and be fenced in, no more than 4 chickens. The list of results continued on to include a wide variety of ordinance, requirements, and rules regarding the chickens. This showed the City Council how other cities in our area are handling the requests of residents who want to have backyard chickens.

Upon finishing the presentation, Mayor Alfin turned the floor over to “Chicken Champion” Councilwoman Pontieri. Pontieri stated that she is in favor of backyard chickens and supports residents having a say over their own land provided they do not create a nuisance to their neighbors.

Danko asked if backyard chickens were allowed, and a neighbor complained of unsanitary coop conditions would animal control be allowed into the backyard? Currently animal control cannot enter property without an invitation from the owner. In some municipalities the permit to have chickens allows animal control the ability to enter your property. Danko went on to say that this is a subject that should be put on a ballot for the whole community to vote on, not just the Council.

Cathy Heighter weighed in with her comments, saying that she felt backyard chickens would be a nuisance and the community would push back against it.

Councilman Klufas started by saying that they had chickens in New York. He said that there is a way to compromise between residents who do want some chickens, and those who do not. He advocated for the pilot program, where those who wanted to join the pilot program and obtain a permit they could apply and allow some residents who took chickens seriously the ability to have what they are asking.

Mayor Alfin commented that he was undecided on the issue, and said that he felt very neutral. He stated that he wanted to talk to people and do his research.

Danko stated he was not in favor of a pilot program, but that he was more in favor of a “community chicken garden” off on the outskirts in town.

Mayor Alfin asked the City Staff to bring back some models of a chicken community garden and a pilot program by the August workshops and business meetings. This allows time for residents who want backyard chickens time to get the subject on the ballot should the council not pass an ordinance change.

The City Council heard a presentation on Land Assets as well after the chicken presentation. The City did an inventory of all of their land assets, and they showed the City owns 859 parcels of land, and 4,820 acres.  This land includes current land being used and land that will be used in the future as growth happens. The Council talked about all of the land, and as well as potential uses and options for land that has not been used or developed.

The presentation talked about many lands the City owns, the wetlands and other things like conservation properties.  Cathy Heighter asked why there were no parcels slated for “workforce” housing. She asked how the City could find a place for workforce housing, which is housing that is cheaper than current home prices to allow people to work and live in Flagler County.  Mayor Alfin stated that as the west side is developed there will be a couple bubbles of land that will be slated for lower income housing.

Pontieri asked if any of the City parcels would meet the needs of a cell tower. The city staff did say that some of the parcels did meet the early preliminary requirements that could be further investigated for potential cell towers. Pontieri also brought up that one of the three parcels listed for economic development, should be slated for light industrial in order to bring in more jobs.

A third presentation was on a voluntary leadership program that has been in place  for ten years now. A video was played which was a testimony of the program and how it works and how the staff found it useful. Following the video City Manager Denise Bevins provided the 8 participants with certificates to conclude their participation in the program.

The Council also discussed a future intersection of Bird of Paradise and Luther Drive. This will help the flow of traffic. Danko asked what the cost will be to add this intersection. They will have  to purchase the lots, so it will cost roughly 60-80 thousand for each lot, there are three total.  The City wants to purchase the lots before they become developed. The DOT will fund the project, but not the purchase of the lots; the grants will cover the design and the construction of the project. The grants require a 10% match from the city and the purchase of the lots would go towards that 10% match. There have been requests to do something about the traffic of this area do the school and other factors. These land purchases were already included in the budget. Another purchase was brought up for 6 Ludlow Lane.

Final public participation was opened up. Commenter Andrew, said thank you to the council for listening to their requests about the backyard chickens. He thanked the council for making the effort to hear their comments and getting a workshop set up so quickly. He also went on to say that the council should be more focused on public opinion than their own opinions.  Josh Fabean commented on the pilot program, that the program entry being so high, no one would want to participate in it. He asked that the city not make this too complicated or too strict. Nathan Phelps also came up to comment about the bird flu severity in the presentation. According to the World Health Organization, there have only been 873 cases of bird flu globally since 2003. Bird to human transmission is rare and human to human is even more rare. The other issue Phelps commented on was the chickens lower home values. He asked the council how can they be trying to make housing more affordable but also be worried about lower the value of homes in the area.  Public comment was closed when no one else approached the dias.

Cathy Heighter said a constituent approached her about a light on Belle Terre Parkway near the school, where there have been multiple accidents. Mayor Alfin also brought up that many constituents have asked him to put in more stop signs along Florida Park Drive, where they have had issues with traffic and speeding.

 

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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