Allow chickens in DeKalb, IL

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Currently, in Illinois, the city ordinance states:

It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any horse, mule, sheep, goat, cattle, hogs, other domesticated  animal or fowl, chickens, ducks, snakes over six feet in length, or other life threatening reptiles, within the City. Bee keeping is prohibited in the City of DeKalb. In addition, no person shall have a right of property in,
or keep, harbor, care for, act as custodian of, or maintain in his possession any dangerous animal (defined as lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, lynx, bobcat, jaguarundi, bear, hyena, wolf, or coyote), except at a properly maintained zoological park, federally licensed exhibit, circus, scientific,
educational institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital or animal refuge in an escape-proof enclosure. (91-99, 93-04)

Chickens have been companions of humans for hundreds, if not thousands of years. When they are allowed to range in the yard, chickens provide entertainment and more benefits to use than common household pets such as cats and dogs. They provide outstanding pest control, eating pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, slugs, and many other insects. Along with pest control, they provide weed and grass control for the garden and produce eggs that are much more nutritious than those you can buy at a supermarket. Keeping backyard chickens is much more than just a trend, they are beneficial to families and communities that allow them.

Backyard chickens are beneficial to the community that they live in because they:

  • Provide a valuable low-cost food source
  • Provide value as a pet, teaching kids about responsibility through caring for an animal who can love them back
  • Divert waste from landfills. Up to 50% of all household waste is compostable and chickens are happy to eat much of that waste.
  • Have manure that is recommended by the US Extension Colleges for use in composting.
  • Provide pest and weed control.

Backyard chickens will generally get far more humane care than the commonly depicted factory farms that are generally filthy and crowded. These factory farms generate numerous problems such as pollution from improper disposable of manure, antibiotic resistance and higher risk of a more dangerous strain of bird flu. Keeping a few chickens at home is one way we can each do our part to address these problems. Limit their numbers and require clean, human care - sure. But there is no legitimate reason for any city to prohibit keeping a few chickens, any more than there is reason to ban the keeping of dogs or cats.

There are several misconceptions about backyard chickens, which include:

  • They are noisy. However, a dog's bark is 90 decibels and having 3 dogs allowed in the city generates 94.8 decibels. Hens generate at most 60 decibels, so it would take much more than 10 hens to produce the same amount of noise.
  • They smell. However, a small flock (4-6 chickens) will generate as much waste as an average dog, and will not smell if kept clean.
  • You need roosters for hens to lay eggs. This is simply untrue, as the rooster is only needed for fertilization of the egg. Hens will still lay eggs without a rooster present.
  • Chickens increase the chance of salmonella. Though this is a common misconception, salmonella comes from improper food handling, not raising chickens.

What we are asking is for a change in the ordinance to allow backyard chickens in DeKalb, and adopting a new ordinance that allows residents in residential zoned areas to own a small backyard flock.

Here is the city of Naperville's municipal code, which the city of DeKalb could use to make adopting new backyard chicken laws and ordinances a success:

1.Housing: All fowl and livestock shall be kept within a pen, coop, building or other enclosure sufficient in size and strength to confine such animals to the owner's property, except that livestock may be tethered securely to a fixed object outside the enclosure, but only if the animal is so confined to the owner's property. A permit shall be obtained from the City of Naperville prior to the construction, addition, or modification of any pen, coop, building or other enclosure used for the purposes of
housing fowl or livestock.
2. Zoning:
Fowl and livestock may be kept in any area in the City except as otherwise provided by this Chapter or the City's Zoning Ordinance.
A maximum of eight (8) fowl shall be permitted on any property. Roosters shall be prohibited.
No livestock shall be kept, housed, maintained, or pastured within a distance of two hundred (200) feet of any occupied residence other than that of the owner.
No pen, coop, building or other enclosure used for the purpose of housing
fowl (with the exception of homing pigeons) shall be erected or maintained within thirty (30) feet of any occupied residence other than that of the owner.
Every person maintaining a pen, coop, building, yard or enclosure for fowl or livestock shall keep such area clean and sanitary at all times. Any dirt or refuse resulting from the fowl or livestock shall be disposed in a clean and sanitary fashion.
All feed for fowl or livestock shall be kept in containers that are rodent-proof until put out for consumption by fowl or livestock.
Any pen, coop, or other structure used for the purpose of housing fowl that is not fully-enclosed shall be screened to a height of six (6) feet. Said screening shall be comprised of fences or walls six (6) feet in height, landscaping of at least seventy-
five percent (75%) opacity, such as non-deciduous plantings, or equivalent screening and shall be located either along the perimeter of the lot where the pen, coop, building or other enclosure used for the purpose of housing fowl is located, or around the perimeter of the pen, coop, or enclosure itself.


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