Aldermen on the Human Services Committee voted 3-1 against permitting Evanstonians to raise chickens in their backyards, but  sent the proposed ordinance on to the nine-member City Council for further debate.

The proposal to permit raising hens — but not roosters — has been before the committee for several months.

Aldermen on the Human Services Committee voted 3-1 against permitting Evanstonians to raise chickens in their backyards, but  sent the proposed ordinance on to the nine-member City Council for further debate.

The proposal to permit raising hens — but not roosters — has been before the committee for several months.

Aldermen Fiske, Jean-Baptiste and Holmes voted against the plan. Alderman Tendam voted for it. Alderman Grover, who is believed to favor the ordinance, was absent from the meeting.

The ordinance now is scheduled for discussion at next Monday’s council meeting.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Chickens in our backyards

    As residents of the Fifth Ward, we commend Alderman Holmes for voting against the ordinance to permit chickens in Evanston backyards. The enforcement implications are far too serious. If Animal Control is unable get the support needed to remove 30-40 cats from someone’s home despite years of complaints, how are they to get the support to remove fowl that exceed the allowed limit or are not caged and maintained as required? First there will be more than six chickens in a yard. Then someone will surely decide they need free-range chickens. Then the roosters will appear. Then it is likely that the gaming element will emerge. We don’t have the resources to expand Animal Control or support the legal fees that surely result. Good intentions inevitably result in unintended consequences, and there are many in this case. We simply cannot got there.

    1. Your logic is strange.

        Your logic is strange.  Roosters are outlawed in the proposed ordinance and it is already illegal to have chickens, so Animal Control will still be on the hook if people have chickens in the absence of the ordinance.


      I’m not sure what the "gaming element" is–bet on how many eggs a chicken will hatch each day?

        1. The logic is still problematic

           Ok, so you’re telling me that if the law is changed to allow people to keep a couple of chickens that there is going to be a proliferation of cock fighting?

          Cities all over the country are doing this.  People who are interested in cock fighting are not going to be the sorts who are waiting for the ordinance to get passed so they can get in the action.

          It is like saying that we should outlaw dogs since a small number of people run dog fights.

          Cock fighting and roosters are illegal now and will remain so if the ordinance gets passed. Since hundreds of cities have relaxed the rules, and there has been no proliferation of cock fighting, there is no evidence to suggest that people who get hens for eggs eventually start getting interested in seeing roosters fight!

          It’s just weird.

          People are interested in getting hens to produce their own food, contribute modestly to reducing their carbon footprint, improve the soil in their gardens and start to live in a more sustainable fashion.  It is pretty simple.

  2. Chickens in Evanston

    I wonder how much money someone saves by producing their own eggs?  Since organic

    milk is nearly $6 per gallon, I would be more likely to support milk cows! I grew up around farms

    and can guarantee you there is no such thing as a "clean, tidy and neighborhood friendly"

    hen, rooster or chicken.  come on folks, this is Evanston, urban America, and no place for

    farm animals.  Carbon footprint reduction? huh?

    1. Cost of Chickens?

      Medium sized coop:  $300

      Chick feed:  $20

      Grown chicken feed:  $30

      Litter: $20

      Salmonella-free eggs: priceless!

      1. So that’s $400.   Are those

        So that’s $400.   Are those feed prices per month?  Year?

        Peapod has organic, cage-free eggs for $4.40/dozen.

        While I do love French Toast, I think it would be easier to just drive to IHOP.  It just isn’t practical to make  your own eggs, milk, bread, and maple syrup.   ( And you can’t grow vanilla or cinammon in this climate).

        1. Factory-raised eggs are cheaper!

          But that’s not the point. Organic, cage-free eggs may be cheaper. But that’s not the point.

          The testimony and evidence and other cities’ experience show that urban residents can raise chickens with minimal/no impact on neighbors.

          If that is the case, then what right do you have telling me I can’t raise chickens- or honey bees?

          Don’t tread on me.

          1. Chickens

             Your elected officials have the right to make that call, the same people who tell you that you can’t leave rusted out automobiles in your driveway.

            I just hope our City Council has the brains to not allow residents of Evanston to raise chickens. This is a "feel good" initiative has more potential negatives than can possibly compare to the positives. Can you imagine the smells that would eminate from a hen house on a hot, humid breezy Chicago night?

            Who would I complain to? Would organic eggs make that scenario acceptable? Would you buy a house next to someone who had a chicken coop in the backyard?

            And, you just know, the hen owners would let them run free from time to time!

            Let’s put our collective intellect together and find ways to feed hungry people and to grown organic produce locally. Every inch of this idea smells bad!

          2. A compromise on chickens

            I propose that the City allow – and subsidize – the construction of a giant 97-storey shiny glass and steel megatower at 708 Church Street.   

            As a public benefit, the developers would be required to put a  ‘green roof’ with sod topping over the lower level parking garages , where chickens would roam and honeybees would buzz, and the roof on top of the 97th floor would have a chicken coop and observation deck with a restaurant where you could get fresh eggs while enjoying the view.   Maybe even one of the lower floors could be reserved for an indoor chicken coop, so the chickens could go inside when it gets cold and we could have eggs all winter, and a little branch library on site so the chickens wouldn’t have to cross the road to get to the main library when they want to get books.

            There might even be enough room for cows.

            This would allow us to have development and chickens too, and the chickens would be far away from the tranquil R1 houses near the old Kendall lot, so their clucking wouldn’t disturb anyone except the downtown condo dwellers.

          3. The Chicken Tower

            Herr Dr. Who Knows What?

            There is one problem with your proposed megatower.

            Given the real estate market, who will fill the space? There is too much space for additional chickens, even if roosters are brought in.

            As for selling the eggs, there is a surplus of eggs.  Look at all the eggs that our public officials have laid.

    2. Hundreds of cities allow residents to have chickens

       Hundreds of cities, including Madison, WI, Ann Arbor, Chapel Hill, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA etc…have no prohibitions on chickens and there are no problems with them bothering neighbors.


      The ordinance in question limits residents to own 6 hens.  A hen produces less than an ounce of waste daily–compared to 10 times that amount for a medium sized dog.   Also, you can compost chicken waste and use it as fertilizer.  The small number of hens restricted by the ordinance plus the small footprint of chickens does not result in significant neighborhood impacts.

      There is absolutely no  cost to the city, so it really makes no sense to continue the prohibition.

      As for the carbon reductions, they are admittedly minimal in the grand scheme of things.  However, if you do substitute locally-grown eggs for store-bought, the impact of transportation, etc… is more than  offset by raising your own chickens.

      The council recognized local food production as one of many strategies that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city’s climate action plan.  Since that plan was passed unanimously by the council in 2008, it is strange that aldermen Baptiste and Holmes voted against it in the Human Services committee a few weeks ago.

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