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Commissioners set to vote on allowing chickens in Charlotte County backyards

Southwest Florida neighbors are involved in a dispute over backyard chickens. Some want the birds welcomed in their backyards as a part of their family.

Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners are close to making a decision on an ordinance that would allow neighbors to have chickens in their backyards.

The clucking of chickens is a comforting sound for Melissa Aniskewicz and her family.

“They’re funny to watch,” Aniskewicz said. “Like when it cools down outside, I just let them run around. I just watch them, and there isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that we don’t have a conversation of what the girls did.”

Aniskewicz’s family is allowed to have chickens in their backyard because of their connection to nonprofit 4-H.

But commissioners are set to vote on whether to allow any single-family household to have chickens of their own. Aniskewicz is all for it.

“If it brings you enjoyment, it’s beneficial to your health, their mind, their mental health,” Aniskewicz said. “Chickens are very therapeutic.”

But Commissioner Stephen Deutsch told us he’s against the measure.

“I really don’t think they should be in a small area where you’ve got, you know, a half acre or smaller lot or a six or 1,000 square foot lot. That just makes it too close.”

“People are worried about noise and sanitation, and there’s people that will say that they smell,” Aniskewicz said. “But you’re here. You don’t smell anything.”

Aside from those possible concerns, there is the food factor.

“To support sustainability with eggs,” Aniskewicz said. “And, you know, given the times over now, I think it’s more important that we be allowed to have these.”

Aniskwicz and the group “Charlotte Cluck” have pushed for the new chicken ordinance for a year now. She hopes her neighbors can experience the joy these birds bring.

Currently, only families connected to 4-H, the Future Farmers of America or a similar organization are allowed to have chickens in Charlotte County. Commissioners will make a decision on the proposal Tuesday.

Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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