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Proposed Macomb ordinance contains fowl language

Fernando Losada Rodriguez
Wikimedia Commons

The issue of urban chickens is once again on the plate for Macomb city council members.

The issue has come up at least a couple times in the past decade. It’s being pushed again by a small group of advocates. Several of them addressed the city council during its most recent committee of the whole meeting.

Mallory Kessler said the ordinance is based on one in Carbondale, and includes a list of rules and requirements.

“We’re confident that this process will ensure citizens be invested and committed to the success of urban chickens in Macomb,” she said.

Kessler told the city council this week that her group has received mostly positive feedback to an ongoing survey about backyard chickens.

The proposed rules for Macomb’s urban chicken licensing program include:

  • A one-time application fee of $200
  • An annual re-registration fee of $10
  • A 15-foot setback from neighboring property lines
  • A 25-foot setback from neighboring structures
  • Chicken coops will require a building permit and have to follow certain size requirements
  • A maximum of six chickens
  • No roosters
  • No slaughtering within city limits
  • One license per property

Lauren Merritt also supports the ordinance. She’s a member of the group and she’s executive director of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce. She told the council that many other communities in Illinois already allow chickens, including Galesburg, Quincy, and Chicago.
“Chickens are very popular. They’re definitely trendy right now but they have been for a long time and I don’t think it’s going away, especially among our younger residents,” Merritt said.

She said that Macomb should strive to attract residents rather than putting up barriers that cause people to look elsewhere.

The city’s Planning Commission voted 5-to-2 in favor of recommending the ordinance. The city council’s Community Development Committee also reviewed the proposed program.

“At both, I would say we had rigorous discussion,” said Community Development Coordinator John Bannon.

He said city staff is willing to review the program after three years.

Council members said they want more input from residents, whether it’s in writing or in-person. They will also accept comments during their committee meeting next week.

“At the moment, we’ve heard from six people (those at the committee of the whole meeting). And we’re looking at 15,051 who have to live with this when we get done,” fourth ward council member Dave Dorsett said.

“I would like to hear a lot more.”

Second ward council member John Vigezzi said he’s talked to residents in his ward who have concerns about the smell, the possibility of chickens attracting predators, and whether the city has enough staff to enforce the ordinance.

Fifth ward council member Ashley Katz said she’s concerned about educating the public so that residents know there are rules in place for owning chickens.

The city council could vote on the licensing program during its first meeting in August.

As TSPR reported a couple weeks ago, Monmouth city council members are also considering an urban chicken ordinance, and they also could vote on the issue next month.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.