Allow backyard chickens in Palos Heights, IL
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Under the City of Palos Heights' current laws, "keeping wild animals, poisonous animals, horses, and other livestock is prohibited in the city." Although debatable, the City considers chickens as livestock. Our goal is to have the city ordinance changed so that chickens (hens only) are allowed to be kept in small flocks for non-commercial purposes under specific restrictions/guidelines.
Under the proposed modified ordinance, we expect and encourage the city to instill restrictions that benefit all stakeholders and animals. These may include: appropriately-sized coops and runs, minimum number of feet away from neighbors' lots, cleanliness, no roosters, small flocks (3-5 max), licence/registration, small yearly fee, secure fencing, property type, violation fines, no raising for fighting or slaughter, etc.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The City of Palos Heights began as an open farmland that was cultivated into lots called "farmettes". Each farmette came with a dozen trees and six grape vines. Buyers were also encouraged to try chicken farming, receiving several incubated chicken eggs!
- The city is surrounded by other municipalities that allow backyard chickens with restrictions. Some of these towns, villages, and cities include Palos Hills, Palos Park, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Homewood, Homer Glen, Oak Lawn, La Grange, Downers Grove, Naperville, Lemont, North Riverside, Countryside, Westmont, Joliet, the entire city of Chicago, and even unincorporated Cook County. Yes, that means unincorporated Palos Heights can have chickens with a quick approval request from the County! Meanwhile, other local areas are currently gaining support to change the laws and allow backyard chickens.
- Last year, a resident proposed to have the ordinance changed but the majority of the city council voted down without reaching out to any residents for input. Almost no one knew about this. Our goal is to let your voices be heard.
BENEFITS TO THE CITY:
- Added revenue from yearly fees
- Sense of community
- Recognition of sustainability
- Pest control! Contrary to the discredited fear that backyard poultry will increase pests, chickens are a natural insecticide. They eat mosquitoes and larvae, grubs, ticks, and will frighten away any critter/rodents. Yes, they will eat mice. No, a small flock of backyard chickens WILL NOT attract rodents.
- A more desirable place to live/more attractive to those who support sustainability, farm-to-table lifestyle, local business and farmers markets, and living green.
BENEFITS TO THE CHICKEN KEEPER:
- Fresh eggs
- Best compost ever for your garden
- Educational experience for children
- Less insects
Chickens will bring pests
- Let us repeat: Chickens DO NOT attract rodents. Food and rubbish attract rodents. If you have any experience with chickens, you will know that they will not let anything go to waste. There is no such thing as leftover food. An average bird feeder with seed has more chance of attracting pests than a chicken coop. However, to alleviate any concerns, we suggest that the proposed ordinance includes restrictions on where and how to keep excess feed.
Chickens are stinky
- Chickens themselves do not stink but sometimes their droppings have an odor. Then again, all feces stink, including yours. Let's put this in perspective though. First, the smell is not nearly as strong as an average dog. Second, the size is not nearly as large as the average dog. Not even 10 chickens come close to equaling the amount of feces that one average 40 lb dog generates each day. Third, chicken poop is like black gold. It's nitrogen-rich fertilizer. It's even sold at Menards! Fourth, the typical chicken coop has a poop tray for keepers to collect the feces and compost or to rid. Most importantly, the proposed ordinance should have guidelines on cleanliness of the facility, which would prevent any chance of a lingering odor.
Chickens are noisy
- Roosters are noisy. Hens are not. Whereas roosters enjoy crowing throughout the day, hens have random soft clucks that can be barely heard. Only when a hen is laying is when she is at her loudest - which is only 60-70 decibels (equivalent to a human conversation). Since we propose that roosters are not allowed under the ordinance, noisy chickens will be averted.
Chickens will attract predators
- This is one of the most common concerns but also one of the biggest misconceptions. Keep in mind that predators are of equal or greater concern to those of us who want to keep chickens. We certainly do not want to attract them. However, predators are already here. They are in your trash, bird feeders, bushes, catch basins, and wooded lots. These predators eat rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and even small cats and dogs if given the opportunity. Keeping chickens DOES NOT ATTRACT PREDATORS ANY MORE THAN THESE OTHER ANIMALS. Chickens have instinctual defenses that protect them from these predators, such as sleeping in a secure, protected area (coop) at night and making very little noise. Remember, the City of Palos Heights is already surrounded by chickens. The amount of predators that are currently in and around the city will not increase nor will they be interested in prey that is not prey-able.
Chickens will bring disease
- Avian influenza, or bird flu... is currently not considered by animal health or public health experts to be a significant risk in backyard poultry in the U.S. Other common bird health concerns, such as parasites and worms, are not transferable to humans. (source: University of Minnesota Food Policy Research Center)
- There is a risk of salmonella if you handle infected chicken poop and do not wash your hands. There is risk of salmonella if you handle infected reptiles (turtles, frogs, lizards, snakes) and do not wash your hands. There is a risk of hookworm, giardia, campylobacter, or toxoplasmosis if you handle infected dog/cat poop and do not wash your hands. There is a risk of norovirus if you handle your child's poop and do not wash your hands. Short answer: Wash your hands. Long answer: If you don't own or physically interact with chickens, you should not have concerns. Still, wash your hands. (adapted source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Allowing backyard chickens will affect property values
- After extensive research, we were unable to find a single documented case that about backyard chickens decreasing property value. On the contrary, local foods and living green is so fashionable that more municipalities are restructuring their laws to allow for backyard chickens. If anything, this may lead to an INCREASE in your value.
I just don't like them so no one should have them.
- Sounds like you need a friend. Can we recommend hugging a chicken?
SUPPORT OUR CAUSE:
Sign the petition, join our Facebook group HERE for more information, share our grassroots initiative, and help us grow. For those of you who want to keep chickens, encourage local support from neighbors, schools, churches, and businesses. For those of you who do not want to keep chickens but still support the proposed ordinance change, we need you! Your voice will make a difference!
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