Palm Bay man fights to raise pigeons on property

Handlers call for change to city ordinance that doesn't allow pigeons in residential area


PALM BAY, Fla. – A Brevard County man wants to raise pigeons on his property, but right now it's not legal to do so within Palm Bay's city limits.

Johnny Rodriguez has been handling pigeons since he was 10 years old and as he got older, he realized that there was more to the birds than just keeping them.

"We were introduced to pigeon racing and now I currently pigeon-race locally," said Rodriguez.

The sport of pigeon racing is when specially-trained racing pigeons are released and the fastest one to get back to their home wins.

Rodriguez races his pigeons with a Palm Bay-based group the Space Coast Racers and ever since he moved to the area 29 years ago, he's kept pigeons at his home, but recently he was contacted by the city's code enforcement.

When asked what code enforcement officials would say if they came to Rodriguez's house and saw pigeons, Rodriguez said, "I don't know what they're going to do, but I hope they look the other way."

He feels that way because in 2011, an ordinance was passed banning farm animals, including pigeons, to be kept on residential property.

Rodriguez and his racing group think the law is unfair, so they filed a request with the city of Palm Bay to amend the ordinance in place.

"All we want to do is fly pigeons and be competitive," said Rodriguez.

The planning and zoning board already voted in favor of allowing homeowners to have pigeons as long as they have proof they are members of a pigeon organization, but the final say will be made by the city council.

Palm Bay city leaders are going to meet on Thursday to discuss whether they're going to allow folks to keep pigeons within city limits.

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