Chickens on Champaign council agenda

CHAMPAIGN — After years of pecking from residents, city council members will take a look at Champaign's ordinance prohibiting backyard hens and likely will take a straw poll to see if the lawmakers are ready to lift the chicken ban.

The existence of Tuesday (July 9) night's discussion on the chicken ban means a majority of council members were at least willing to talk about it — although that does not guarantee a majority will vote to lift the ban. They will meet at 7 p.m. in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

City administrators have researched chicken rules in other communities and will present their findings to the city council on Tuesday night.

Urbana, for one, is relatively lax in allowing backyard chickens, according to city documents. East of Wright Street, keeping chickens is as simple as keeping any other pet, and Urbana's city codes contain no specific language about hens.

Evanston, on the other hand, is more tight with its ordinance on keeping hens. It requires that its residents obtain a permit to keep hens, and on-site inspections of the hens' living areas are required for annual renewal of that permit. That permit costs up to $25 each year.

If city council members want to open the door to backyard chickens, they will need to direct city administrators on how to write the ordinance and how restrictive they think it should be.

The section of the Champaign municipal code that outlaws chickens also prohibits residents from keeping turkey, geese, ducks, sheep or cattle, lions, tigers and bears, among other animals.

Even if chickens were removed from that section of the code, any noise or odor that might come from a chicken coop would still be regulated by the city's property maintenance codes, and the treatment of chickens would be addressed by the city's ordinances on keeping animals.

Of the cities that administrators researched, residents were generally allowed to keep four to six hens — no roosters — and they were required to be kept in the backyard and fenced in at all times. The sale of their eggs and on-site slaughter of chickens were prohibited in those cities.

In some cases, property deeds may still prohibit residents from keeping hens. According to city documents, most recently-constructed residential subdivisions — including Sawgrass, Boulder Ridge, Trails at Chestnut Grove and Ashland Park — have restrictive covenants on the property deeds that prohibit keeping poultry. Those rules are not controlled or enforced by the city.

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Kingdomwrker wrote on July 09, 2013 at 8:07 am
C in Champaign wrote on July 09, 2013 at 8:07 am

Feeding, Vet bills, what if those chicks you bought grow up to be roosters, and what do you do when they stop laying eggs? Chickens lay eggs for two years, and live for ten or more... It may seem cool and trendy, but it isn't always all that it's cracked up to be.

http://www.chow.com/food-news/104627/the-dark-side-of-backyard-chickens/

Joe American wrote on July 09, 2013 at 10:07 am

When they quit laying eggs, throw them in the roaster.  What's the problem?

hoyt wrote on July 09, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Exactly.

 

Also, how can "Feeding" and "Vet bills" be used in arguments against lifting the ban on chickens? People have to feed their other pets and take them to vets. What's the difference? In fact, the vet med students at the U of I animal hospital LOVE looking at chickens. It's something they don't get to do very often, and they relish the opportunity.

 

Finally, in the event that some of your chicks turn out to be roosters, there are countless people in Urbana and in rural areas outside C-U who will gladly take the roosters and add them to their flocks. All one must do to re-home a rooster is post something on Craigslist or with one of the Facebook chicken groups.

spinnymarie wrote on July 09, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Many chickens actually lay eggs for longer than two years, and responsible pet owners can purchase 'sexed' chicks to avoid purchasing roosters all together.  

Midwest_Marie wrote on July 09, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Chickens have been legal in Urbana for years (maybe forever) and I have not heard stories of the Champaign County Humane Society having problems with abandoned chickens. I don't believe that re-legalizing chickens in Champaign will suddenly lead to a spike in chickens being abandoned at the Humane Society.

mrseeu2 wrote on July 09, 2013 at 9:07 am

Don't do it.  Don't lift the ban.  The noise and ordor from backyard chickens should be enough for any sane person to say no way.  Where are we living now, Hootersville?

spinnymarie wrote on July 09, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Responsibly owned chickens actually make little noise and should have little to no noticeable smell.  

I am allowed, in Champaign, to own several dogs and keep them outside, which would be far more noise and odor than a few chickens. 

Chickens would and should be included in all noise and odor city ordinances.  If it became a problem for others, it could be reported and resolved.

AreaMan wrote on July 09, 2013 at 9:07 am
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Please lift this senseless ban! Chickens are no more of a nuisance than dogs, and they have the benefit of producing food for a family.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on July 09, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Personally, I don't have any problem with the city allowing homeowners to keep chickens. That being said, my daughter would strongly object if I attempted to keep a couple of hens. Even though she does not pay the mortgage, she does live with me, and I do try to respect her wishes and preferences. 

spamfisher wrote on July 09, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I would love for the council to lift the ban on chickens in Champaign!  What an opportunity to teach my children responsibility by feeding and taking care of chickens in their own backyard!  And an opportunity for them to see where their food actually comes from would be excellent!  I am crossing my fingers that council members will agree on lifting the ban.

selguy wrote on July 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Allowing chickens (females) but not roosters (males) seems sexist.  China and India have an opposite reality with human births--female births are often discouraged or disdained.

Mr Dreamy wrote on July 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm

The chickens will attract coyotes. Coyotes will eat your cats and small dogs.  Coyotes work together. Good luck.

purple9 wrote on July 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

If you want to raise chickens to eat, lay eggs or teach your child to be responsible....move to the farm or Urbana or someother town that allows it.  Chickens belong in the country not in your back yard next to mine.     They stink and they are noisy......cluck cluck cluck.