Chicago Lawmakers Pushing For Tighter Regulation for Backyard Chickens

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz reported on the front page of today’s Chicago Tribune that, “An ordinance introduced last month would ban roosters from residential areas in Chicago and allow a household to keep no more than six hens and two livestock animals, defined as four-legged farm creatures such as pigs, sheep and goats.

“A $25 annual livestock permit from the city’s Health Department would be required of each household keeping farm animals, and only single-family homes and two-flats would be eligible. Applicants would have to inform all neighbors within 500 feet of their plans, and a permit would be rejected if a majority objects.

“Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Ald. Anthony Napolitano, 41st, said the proposed law is a response to the ‘growing presence’ of livestock in city neighborhoods.”

The Tribune article noted that, “Lawmakers in 2007 tried to ban chickens from Chicago’s residential areas, citing concerns about stench and rodents, but chicken lovers across the city mobilized to defeat the proposal. Meanwhile, other municipalities responded to the rising interest in urban farming by loosening restrictions. Evanston in 2010 lifted its chicken ban to allow up to six hens but no roosters.

“The pro-chicken lobby in Chicago is rallying again, arguing that the city’s general animal welfare and noise and nuisance laws, which include a ban on cockfighting and fines for excessive noise, already address issues that might arise.”

Today’s article added that, “Rather than limit urban agriculture, Lopez said he wants the ordinance to be ‘viewed as a catalyst for a broader conversation on the future growth and sustainability of urban agriculture as a positive growth industry in the city — an industry that needs more than variances and special use privileges from bureaucrats within City Hall.’

“The proposed caps on hens and livestock were based on how much room the animals would need for proper care when the average city lot is 25 by 125 square feet, Lopez said.

In addition to regulating backyard livestock, the ordinance would require an urban farm license for spaces used for the commercial production of produce, eggs, milk and dairy products.”

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