Des Plaines effort to allow backyard chickens dead for now
A fledgling effort to allow backyard chickens in Des Plaines got a frosty reception from aldermen Monday.
Dozens of residents showed up to ask the city council for a change in local law to allow them to raise hens as the urban farming trend heats up across the suburbs.
"I would really love to feed my family and eat healthy, organic, unpasteurized eggs," said Nada Hana, who started an online petition with about 300 signatures before the meeting. "I would like your approval to let all families eat healthier."
But aldermen -- wary of health risks, noise complaints and more regulations for city employees to enforce -- were skeptical of changing the ordinance.
"You're talking about introducing a health risk into the community that we don't have now," 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, outbreaks of salmonella have been linked to people in contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.
However, Ed Fuhrman, founder of Chicago Land Urban Chicken Keepers-Round Lake Area, said similar problems have not occurred in the Chicago area, citing public health records from Cook and Lake counties.
Chicago, Oak Park, Elgin, West Dundee, Deerfield, Evanston, Brookfield and Western Springs allow backyard chickens.
Fuhrman said cats and dogs can carry more diseases that get passed to humans than chickens.
"The evil we know versus the evil we don't know," Fuhrman said.
Still, the proposal didn't gain enough support from aldermen to ask the city staff to draft ordinances for city council to consider. Rather, aldermen voted to allow for the topic to be discussed again at a future meeting.
Third Ward Aldermen Denise Rodd, who supports allowing backyard chickens, said she plans to bring the idea up again.
This wasn't the first time Des Plaines considered allowing backyard chickens. An effort to allow chickens citywide failed to gain support a few years ago, but the city council later passing an ordinance in 2014 allowing them on a limited basis.
The ordinance -- created to let the Historic Methodist Campground sponsor a 4-H program -- permits up to six chickens on a property of 15 acres that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.