Legalize Backyard Hens in Park Ridge

Legalize Backyard Hens in Park Ridge

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lejla cehic started this petition to City Council

Dear Elected City Officials,

As residents of the City of Park Ridge, we are requesting a change in our zoning ordinance to include the ability to raise hens on our private property much like our neighboring cities including Chicago, Des Plaines, Deerfield, Highland Park, Oak Park, Evanston, Elgin, Brookfield, and Naperville have successfully done at the request of their residents.

We are asking for 2 to 8 hens per household (no roosters) for the following reasons:

  • Chickens are fun, friendly pets that offer educational value for children about where food such as eggs and their beloved chicken nuggets, come from. 
  • Their eggs can provide food security for families and opportunities for those wanting more sustainable food options and seeking a better connection with our food chain.
  • They lay healthier eggs compared to store-bought eggs which are often 2 months old before they even make it onto your breakfast plate, per law.
  • They give gardeners high-quality fertilizer and improve our compost. 
  • They control flies, ticks and other pests, not add to them, and dispose of weeds and kitchen scraps that otherwise might end up in the landfill. 
  • They help save us time and the environment by cutting down trips to the grocery store.

To address some myths regarding backyard hens:

Noise: The requested ordinance would only allow hens, not roosters. If you don’t have roosters, chickens aren’t noisy. Hens cluck and peep softly all day long, and then go to bed at dusk and remain quiet all night. A hen's cluck at its loudest is the same as a human conversation at 65 decibels while a dog’s bark averages 100 decibels. Hens are measurably quieter than lawnmowers, jet planes, leaf blowers, cars or fireworks. 

Smell: A 40-pound dog creates 0.75 pounds of waste a day (imagine 2 red apples) while a single hen produces only 0.125 pounds of waste a day (imagine 7 cherries). While chicken waste makes for excellent fertilizer, dog waste is unusable and cannot be added to your compost. To further cut down the smell, the ordinance would require chickens to be kept in a “secure, well-maintained coop," ensuring a clean environment as well as security from predators such as raccoons. Just like any pet, smells are not an issue with regular care and cleaning. 

Disease: Small flocks have virtually no risk of avian flu transmission to humans. Centers for Disease Control states on their website: “There is no need at present to remove a family flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian flu.” The 2006 Grain Report states: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry is the solution, not the problem.” Small scale, backyard poultry flocks, are measurably healthier than the large-scale hens kept in warehouses by big brand poultry farmers. As for salmonella, chickens, like other common household pets—including dogs, turtles, and caged birds—can carry salmonella. For this reason, the CDC counsels that people should wash their hands after touching poultry, should supervise young children around poultry, and make sure that young children wash their hands after touching chicks or other live poultry. Therefore, it is a food-handling sanitation problem, not an avian problem. Statistically according to the CDC, you have a .0002% chance of getting salmonella from hens. (Based on 795 verified cases per a US population of 327 million people)

We have done extensive research on this matter and will forward you all our findings prior to your next council meeting so that you may vote on adding us to your future agenda. We hope that you will take the time and review this information objectively and grant us the zoning ordinance change.

Thank you for considering our request.


Frequent concerns: 


Our urban lots are so small, how can we possibly fit a chicken coop in our backyard?

A hen does not need much space to thrive and lay delicious fresh eggs. The chickens home consists of two areas, a chicken coop and run. The coop is the space the hen sleeps in and has a perch for the hens to jump on at night. The coop also has a nest box where the chickens lay their eggs. The recommended square footage per hen for the coop is anywhere between 2-4 sq ft depending on your hen size. The nest box does not need to be larger than 12”x12” and one nest box is plenty for up to 4 hens. The run space can be as large as you want it to be or as little as 6 sq ft - 8 sq ft per hen. That said, two hens can comfortably live in a coop/run that is 4’x3’ small. If your home is properly situated and the neighborhood is following the set back requirements, then the coop should not be positioned closer than 25’ from your home. You can comfortably keep 2-4 chickens on a standard lot and if the city permits a larger lot could have more. 

The chickens will stink!

The chickens do not smell more or less than any pet. If you don’t clean your cat’s litter box frequently, it will begin to smell. If you don’t pick up after your dog, it will smell. That said, it’s all about coop maintenance. As long as the coop is cleaned regularly and deodorized with PDZ, fresh bedding, and diatomaceous earth, the smell will be minimum to none.

What if the smell is unbearable, who will enforce the ordinance? 

If you are not very neighborly with your neighbors or just aren’t comfortable raising the issue with them personally, please contact your city and file a complaint. The city will follow up and take the necessary measures the same way that they would if you called about any animal or zoning problem.

The chickens will make too much noise and disturb my peace!

As mentioned previously, chickens DO NOT make much noise at all. Roosters do! We are not asking to keep roosters. You should only hear an occasional cluck or the hen egg laying song (cluck, cluck, cluuuuukkkk) when they’re laying eggs, which is once a day per chicken at the most. Even that noise won’t be louder than a conversation between humans at 65 decibels. If for some reason not discovered in our research they make excessive noise, talk to your neighbor or call the city.

More to be added soon... 




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