New law allows Ocala residents to keep hens on their property

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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) -- It turns out that you can fight city hall-- if you aren't chicken, and because of the efforts of one woman, residents of Ocala are now allowed to keep hens on their property.

It's only for people living in single-family homes.

For resident Amanda Scacchi, it's not just about raising food, it's about the bond she and her children have with their pets.

Scacchi lives in Ocala with her children, husband, and feathery friends.

"I just think chickens are a really great addition to a family. They're super low maintenance and they're quiet and friendly, they're just great to have around,” she said.

But not too long ago, her chickens were illegal tenants.

And after an inspection by City Code Enforcement, when the family was re-homing a rooster, they received as a chick, "I cried, I cried the day when she came back to inspect for the rooster, she says you have to get rid of them. I literally cried,” she said.

She had to look at different options to keep her little family together. Even considering moving to the county to keep her hens but…

"One day I just got to thinking it might be worth a little bit of time to save a few hundred thousand dollars that it was going to cost us to buy more property outside in the county, and so I emailed Matt Wardell who is my City Council member,” Scacchi said.

He told Scacchi he thought it was something she should bring to the council’s attention.

And after doing some research, Scacchi did present before the council, "I basically presented why it is beneficially to the city and to families who wanted to raise their own food and of pets,” she said.

An in a three to two vote, a new ordinance was passed, allowing chickens to be raised on properties designated as single-family homes.

"My children were ecstatic, they get to keep their pets and it's just been great,” Scacchi said.

Residents must get a permit if they want to keep chickens at their homes.

The animals must also have a covered, ventilated, and maintained chicken coop.

No other poultry is allowed - this includes ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Find the new ordinance here: http://ocalafl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=2504&MediaPosition=6157.535&ID=13515&CssClass=