The Palm Beach County Commission gave preliminary approval last week to a Uniform Land Development Code (ULDC) amendment that would relax requirements for livestock kept in the rural and exurban tiers, which include The Acreage.
At the July 26 meeting, Planning Director Rebecca Caldwell said the draft ordinance would provide protection to property owners in the rural and exurban tiers who would otherwise be subject to citations for keeping livestock.
Caldwell said that the end goal is to preserve and protect the rights of county residents. “We have put together proposed regulations to achieve this mission,” she said. “As regulations exist currently, properties in those areas can have only one use, residential or bona fide agricultural use.”
Caldwell said the new ordinance is narrowly tailored to separate poultry from birds and to protect the rights of residents who keep domestic livestock, as guaranteed in the comprehensive plan.
The language addresses the standards for accessory structures associated with keeping livestock, and the new standards would be more lenient than the ULDC’s, and differentiate between fixed and portable structures.
“Portable structures are those that are not fixed and are easily movable,” Caldwell said. “They are allowed in the front and side street yards, but permanent structures are not.”
Permanent structures have always required building permits in compliance with the state building code, while permanent accessory structures that are unpermitted cannot be “grandfathered in” under any new regulations because they were not legal in the first place, she said.
The new regulations do not affect horses, hobby bird breeders or bona fide agricultural uses, which are addressed under other ordinances and statutes. Since the proposed regulations do not address bona fide agriculture, the Right to Farm Act does not apply, Caldwell noted. What constitutes bona fide agriculture is determined by the Property Appraiser’s Office.
“It will affect residents who want to keep cows, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry,” she said.
Caldwell added that current home occupation regulations do not allow the public to come to a residence to purchase items, but the new regulations would be more lenient, allowing six separate sales of multiple items per year. This would, for example, accommodate 4-H and similar activities at residences that do not have a bona fide agricultural use.
The new rules exclude planned unit developments, which were not designed to be rural in nature.
The amendments would also address livestock fencing, as well as the status of existing structures and grace periods for non-compliant structures. It also deletes the maximum number of livestock that can be kept on a property as well as screening requirements.
“The proposed regulations will benefit the residents in these areas by codifying reasonable standards to implement the guaranteed right, found in the comprehensive plan, to keep livestock as an accessory use, recognizing their presence within a rural/exurban community,” Caldwell said.
She added that 5 acres are required under current regulations to keep livestock, but the proposed regulations would have no minimum acreage requirement.
Steve Hinkle of Jupiter Farms urged passage of the amendments to allow residents there to continue agricultural activities, explaining that on his street, six in 10 people have chickens or other livestock. “It would be illegal if you do not continue this,” he said. “Please continue this so that we can continue our agricultural lifestyle.”
Mike Erickson, former Indian Trail Improvement District supervisor and now government liaison for the Acreage Landowners’ Association, encouraged the commissioners to pass something to allow continuation of agricultural activities.
However, Erickson had a problem with limiting on-site sales to six a year. “That’s a big one,” he said. “Where did the six come from?”
Erickson added that because of the smaller lot sizes in The Acreage and Jupiter Farms, “someone isn’t going to have all kinds of things they can produce on that small of an area to sell and turn it into a store.”
Thus, he said, the ALA proposed “that on-site sales shall be limited to livestock and livestock products raised or produced strictly on-site. The scale and size of what we’re talking about will limit what they’re actually going to do. They can’t import stuff and bring it in.”
Acreage resident Patricia Curry objected to language stating that the keeping of livestock would be “permitted,” pointing out that the comp plan states that the keeping of livestock is “guaranteed.” She added that she thought the ordinance violates the Right to Farm Act, contrary to county staff’s interpretation.
Commissioner Karen Marcus made a motion to grant preliminary approval with the provision that county staff continue to work with people who still have concerns regarding the language.
The motion carried unanimously. Final adoption is set for Aug. 23.