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Panel rejects chicken limit by wards

A proposal from Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to amend the chicken ordinance adopted last month to limit the number of coops to three per ward failed to win the support of most members of Evanston’s Human Services Committee Wednesday.

A proposal from Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to amend the chicken ordinance adopted last month to limit the number of coops to three per ward failed to win the support of most members of Evanston’s Human Services Committee Wednesday.

The existing ordinance limits the number of coops city-wide to 20 during the first year. The proposed amendment would also apply only for the first year.

The ordinance overturns a ban on keeping chickens in Evanston adopted in 1974. It limits the number of chickens per coop to a maximum of six.

The Health Department has already sent out applications to seven 3rd Ward residents seeking coop licenses, while the number of license requests from other wards have ranged from zero and two. So far only one coop license has been issued — in the 8th Ward.

Committee members seemed concerned the amendment might impact 3rd Ward residents who’ve already requested license applications.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, who had voted against the original ordinance, said that he now was comfortable with the existing rules.

He also noted that the city will soon be drawing new ward boundaries, which could make enforcing the distribution rule more complicated. That led Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, to joke about the potential for "chicken gerrymandering."

Jean-Baptiste, Tendam and Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, voted against the amendment. Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, voted for it.

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