Acreage Meeting To Discuss New Livestock Rules

Palm Beach County planners will attend a joint meeting of the Acreage Landowners’ Association and Indian Trail Improvement District at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 9 at the district office to explain the benefits of a newly drafted livestock ordinance.

The ordinance, which will go before the Palm Beach County Commission sometime this summer, received criticism from several Acreage residents, as well as members of the ITID Board of Supervisors, after it went before the Land Development Regulation Advisory Board earlier this month. That board recommended postponing the ordinance by an 11-3 vote.

Palm Beach County Planning Director Rebecca Caldwell said the draft ordinance would provide protection to property owners in the rural and exurban tiers keeping livestock who would otherwise be subject to citations.

“Currently there are provisions for livestock only when it’s bona fide agricultural or for horses or hobby breeders now,” Caldwell told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “Horses can be private stables, and that fits more or less what might be an accessory to a single-family home, but the other scenarios are very much an ill fit to what’s out there in the rural and exurban areas for private use of livestock.”

The new language would address having livestock on property where people live without bona fide agriculture being the principal use, Caldwell said.

“The regulations that are on the books now place many people in a state of being in violation of the regulation because they don’t fit that use,” she said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is to legitimize this use in the rural and exurban tiers where it belongs and where we’re trying to promote rural uses. Currently, many people are in violation of the regulations that are on the books, and we’re trying to make the regulations reflect the reality.”

The problems with the existing regulations arose when a Jupiter Farms woman was cited for keeping a rooster on her property.

In a letter to the ITID administrator dated June 21, Caldwell wrote that the existing regulations are overly strict and require a minimum acreage larger than the majority of parcels in the rural and exurban tiers.

“The new standards clearly state that the keeping of livestock is allowed on single-family parcels in the rural and exurban tiers,” Caldwell wrote. “The proposed standards establish protection of these rights, while recognizing the property’s principal use as residential.”

An exception to the new regulations would be in a planned unit development.

The new language also does not apply to bona fide agricultural uses, which are under a different and existing set of regulations. Keeping horses is also covered under separate and existing regulations.

The new language applies to properties in the rural and exurban tiers that would like to keep cows, pigs, goats, sheep and domesticated poultry for non-agricultural purposes.

The new regulations reduce the setback requirements for accessory structures such as cages, shelters, troughs and pens from 50 feet to 15 feet for non-conforming lots and 25 feet for conforming lots.

Temporary or portable structures of 400 square feet or less under existing regulations cannot be located in a front or side yard. Under the proposed regulations, they can be located in the front yard. Under existing regulations, the number of animals that can be kept is limited to five large animals per acre. There is no limit under the proposed regulations.

General retail sales from a home are prohibited under the current code, with a few exceptions such as a garage sale. The proposed text would allow up to six separate sales per year to be made from the residence.

The letter also stated that almost all code enforcement action that occurs currently is a result of a complaint by a neighbor. That would remain unchanged.

The letter continued that references in the original proposed language to the animal care and control ordinance were intended to clarify that the new zoning text was not adding anything on the subject of animal care.

“The ACC regulations already exist, but do not have requirements for livestock to be vaccinated, and certainly do not require them to be licensed,” Caldwell wrote. “Unfortunately, this wording was not well done and will be reworded.”


Above: Backyard chicken coop plans.


  1. What does “side yard mean” What kind of stupidity is involved with deciding that having a chicken coop in your front yard is a good idea?

    Who in their right mind, would put a chicken coop in FRONT OF THEIR BEAUTIFUL HOUSE?

    I live on a huge canal, so there is no roadway, but this is stil considered a “side yard”. I would agree if you had a neighbor on the side of your property. If you live on a dead end road and the Canal runs along side of the house. Having any animal structures puts it into the PERFECT spot to not bother anyone.

  2. What Caldwell isn’t saying is that EVERY non permitted structure whether its a coop. pig pen. small pole barn, lean to or anything that was constructed years ago (or you want to construct now) before the zoning rules changed, are not going to be grandfathered in.

    Also, all cross fencing is considered permanent structure and will need to be pulled if not permitted.

    The language is limiting to those who know what it entails to house livestock. Horses are different. You don’t pull and move like those with livestock. We put up fences and pens as we need, that would mean every time you want to add something, remove something, put up something again, you would have to go get a permit. Cost prohibitive. With bonafide agriculture you do not. Because they realize the enormous monetary restrictions involved.

    Pulling a permit EVERY time you want to do something regarding livestock is not right! Penalizing those that have structures not in compliance is a citation fest waiting to happen. I foresee they will get a complaint from a neighbor next door to a small livestock operation, which they can’t do anything about, but then they can (with this ordinance) force you to pull down all fencing, coops, buildings, forcing the livestock owner to start over. In essence, creating such a costly dilemma where the owner has no option but to get rid of animals to just comply with the the citations. This is not good.

    Why limit the sales at all? 6 onsite sales is nothing. This forces people to start selling from the street. Not professional. Or forces people to drive to auction, 2 hours away. It’s unenforceable so why have a limit attached to it? If they want to target you and watch now they can cite you for selling over that limit. Again, not good. Limiting your right to farm.

    I’m not sure if any Animal Care language is coming out at the moment. But There is already a large burden on them to monitor dogs/ cats and relinquished animals. I don’t feel that they need (or even want) involvement monitoring livestock protocols already followed by the FDACS and or USDA regulations.

    Getting the livestock on the books is just a backpedaling effort. Our Comprehensive Land Use Plan “guarantees our right to have livestock”… on 1.25 acres i the EXURBAN tier. Why then does zoning feel this is something we need- to protect our rights? Its a given. And putting it on the books that YES animals on 1.25 acres is allowed and encouraged. But anything else in this ordinance is restrictive and needs to go away!

    If they want to help us, there should be language that allows the honey guy ability to sell from his gate, or the egg guy to sell once a week on a saturday from the coop. The gardener that wants to sell their jams. Or the breeder ability to sell piglets, chicks, etc. without worrying they’ve hit their limit. And without having to get a bonafide Agriculture exemption, which btw is extremely difficult. The way the ULDC is written you can’t fall under the Florida Right To Farm act which guarantees these rights, without a bonafide agriculture classification.

    This ordinance in its entirety is not a good thing.

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