The Leon County Commission moves forward with an ordinance supporting urban farming.
At their December 10th meeting, the Leon County Commission will consider a proposed ordinance that will allow urban agriculture and urban equine as permitted uses. Based on stakeholder feedback and to ensure community support, an ordinance was prepared to eliminate barriers to the operation of small-scale commercial farming inside the Urban Service Area (USA).
The proposed ordinance seeks to build upon the County’s efforts to support urban agriculture activities and would allow urban equine as a permitted use.
Staff reports that this issue came to the forefront, in part, because of a small local urban farm that raised and sold on-site crops on a leased vacant urban lot. The farm is considered a nonconforming land use since commercial farming is not allowed in the zoning district in which the use is occurring.
The proposed ordinance establishes a clear path for allowing urban agricultural practices in the County within areas that would not normally be allowed to establish such uses. In summary, the ordinance proposes the following:
- Establishes three different tiers of agricultural uses within the County: home gardens, community gardens and urban farms. These agricultural uses are in addition to traditional farming and agricultural activities that are already allowed by right in certain zoning districts outside the urban services area.
- Home gardens, while already permissible in Leon County in association with any residential use, will now allow for the keeping of 10 hens or ducks within secured enclosures.
- Community gardens, while already permissible in Leon County in all zoning districts, will now be allowed without review from the County if less than a ½ acre and not on County owned land. Additionally, a community garden will allow for the keeping of 20 hens or ducks and one rooster. Lastly, beekeeping will be permitted provided the operation meets the regulations set forth in the Florida Administrative Code. Produce can be personally consumed or sold off-site at farmer’s markets or though CSAs.
- Urban farms, a new tier of farming activity in Leon County, will be allowed in any zoning district inside the USA, except residential districts, and may be up to 3 acres in size. Up to two roosters and an unlimited number of hens and ducks will be allowed when kept in compliance with humane care standards and in accordance with public nuisance prohibitions established under the County’s Animal Control Division. Beekeeping and aquaponics operations will also be allowed on urban farms consistent with state best management practices. On-site sales will also be allowed on urban farms when approved through the County’s site and development plan process to ensure compatibility with adjacent uses.
- Lastly, a new section entitled Urban Equine is established which sets forth reasonable property size allocations to allow for horses as pets in association with any residential use. It was determined through analysis and consultation with stakeholders that one horse can be sustained along with a single-family residence on one acre of land and an additional horse could be supported on each subsequent one-half (½) acre of land.