Citizens group claims 150 signatures to legalize possession of hens in Val-p city limits

If one Valparaiso group gets its way, hens will be allowed within city limits. The proposal has run a-fowl of other residents, though. (I got it out of my system, I’m done. Promise.)

Missy Reeh-Weakley  says she’s a recent transplant to Valparaiso – and couldn’t believe the city ordinances did not allow for residents to have chickens within city limits. 

Over the last week, Reeh-Weakley gathered about 150 signatures from residents of Valparaiso. She believes the birds act as a net benefit to any community. “Chickens will cut down on the pest population, specifically, mosquitoes and ticks,” Reeh-Weakley added, “They provide manure for gardeners, educational opportunities for children, and among like minded friends and neighbors. Chickens also provide a topic of conversation, a sense of community and a sense of pride, and most importantly, healthier eggs and more available eggs than when you went to the grocery store.”

Currently, the cities of Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach and Crestview have ordinances which allow, but regulate the possession of chickens within their city limits.  

Niceville does not allow chickens to be kept within city limits. 

Despite Reeh-Weakley’s assertions, Mid Bay News could not find a Destin ordinance either banning or regulating chickens within the city limits. 

Reeh-Weakley’s proposal would allow a total of six chickens per home and ban roosters from the city limits. 

“We get a lot of things [from chickens] in our community,” Chambers said, “but let me tell you what other things that chickens bring into the community whether you want it or not. You get coyotes, you get opossums, you get raccoons.”
Les Chambers
Valparaiso Resident
a woman at a podium
Missy Reeh-Weakley speaks to the Valparaiso City Commission about chickens.

A Chicken’s Biggest Rival? Socialism.

Candy Hansard, another Valparaiso resident, asked the commissioners to change the rules on chickens within city limits. 

She argued the encroaching powers of socialism present a clear and present danger on the United States. “We need to start being able to take care of ourselves,” she said, “We don’t know what’s going to happen with our country right now. It seems like we are going down this socialist road. And I know a lot of people think, ‘oh, it’s going to be fine and dandy, because we can still go on even if we have to wait a few days to get [chicken’s eggs],’” Hansard said, “But that can change very quickly.” She added, “I’m saying that right now, we are free enough to that we can allow our citizens to start taking steps to take care of themselves.”

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Not everyone thought the right to possess chickens in the city was a good idea. Les Chambers, a member of several boards at Valparaiso City Hall argued against the idea. “We get a lot of things [from chickens] in our community,” Chambers said, “but let me tell you what other things that chickens bring into the community whether you want it or not. You get coyotes, you get opossums, you get raccoons,” Chambers said. He added, rhetorically, “you think we’ve got bear problems today?” 

RELATED: Bear Problems Rear Their Head Near the Lewis School

Terry Griffin also stood up to speak against the proposal. “I was in the chicken business for a few years. That’s the nastiest animal ever,” he said to a couple of laughs. “When I was growing up, a guy had two chickens to begin with [in his backyard]. And when the city finally banned chickens he had about 100 chickens.”

What Happens Next?

Reeh-Weakley didn’t turn in the petition on Monday night, but added in her presentation she will turn the petition in sooner rather than later. 

Once the petition is turned over to the city commission – the commission can entertain a new ordinance (which would have to pass a vote at least twice in order to become an ordinance) or take no action on it.

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