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Will Chicken Ordinance Fly the Coop?

Trustee Jim Racich asks board members to consider amending code to allow small chicken farms within the village limits.

Less than 10 hens; no roosters.

Those are the new rules being suggested by Jim Racich when it comes to amending Plainfield’s ordinance on owning fowl and livestock.

Racich made his plea on behalf of Doug Soika, a Plainfield resident hoping to pave the way for small chicken farms within the village limits.

“Would we be considered radical to allow people to raise chickens on their lots?” Racich asked Monday, citing other Illinois towns that allow small chicken farms, such as Evanston, Oak Park, Downers Grove, St. Charles, Elgin and even the City of Chicago.

“It can be argued that a small chicken farm — less than 10 hens, no roosters — is educational … It’s healthy, it’s organic," Racich said.

Along with growing his own vegetables, Soika said he’s raising four chickens in a small coop to teach his children sustainability.

“I would like the opportunity to raise chickens on a small scale,” he said. “I think it would be a fantastic opportunity for them.”

Current ordinance bars Plainfield residents from keeping fowl or livestock on less than five acres of property.

But Racich asked the board to consider revising the ordinance to permit small chicken farms.

“The hens are really no problem at all,” he said. “Roosters are the troublemakers.”

 Soika, who said he keeps his chickens in a small coop designed to match the siding on his home, agreed.

“I will say, chickens are silent as long as you don’t have a rooster,” he said. “They’re quieter than dogs.”

Soika invited village officials to view his chicken coop to get an idea of the impact it has on the neighborhood.

Racich asked his fellow trustees to consider the matter, requesting that it be brought forth at an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.

In the meantime, he asked residents to share their views — both for and against allowing chicken coops — with him via email. To contact Racich, email jracich@goplainfield.com.

Mayor Mike Collins asked Racich to collect the responses he receives and bring them forward at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.

“If it’s managed properly, perhaps we can consider it,” Racich said. “If we were to approve this … people would say we are ‘eggstraordinary.’”

What do you think? Should Plainfield allow small chicken farms? Tell us in the comments! 

April Storms June 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I would love this! I am all for allowing homeowners to raise a limited number of chickens in a controlled setting.
Judy Graham June 19, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I would love to have some chickens.
Lysa Heaton June 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
What an amazing experience for the children and good for you as parents and Plainfield residents for fighting this one.....I applaud the board for considering changing the rules and sincerely hope you can get it passed. You have my support 100% of the way :)
Tammy June 19, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I am in complete support of this idea. In a world of increasing childhood obesity and increasing food allergies, especially in children, this is an awesome opportunity. It teaches our children a healthier way to live and also teaches others that we are reponsible for our own health. Thank you to the Soika family for brining this to our attention. I hope that the board passes this proposal to change the Plainfield ordinance.
Tammy Prouty Lewkowicz June 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
As a child I was able to enjoy the "chicken coops" and fresh egg experience. I think it would be great if my family could also enjoy this organic experience. I hope it takes hold and the village approves.
Dragonfly June 19, 2012 at 07:03 PM
This is a wonderful idea! Chickens are quiet and how awesome to have fresh eggs!
Butch June 19, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Anybody know how you dispose of chicken waste? For 30 years we lived downwind of a pigeon raiser and when he would burn the waste it was almost unbearable. From what I am seeing everybody is in favor of this idiot idea except me. You can build all the chicken coops you want but if somebody puts in one upwind of me, then I will become a very familiar face at the board meetings.
Miguel Sanchez June 19, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Why just chickens? How about pigs for all the same reasons? Goats? Chimps?
Tim June 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM
In a compost pile. In 60 days, you have some of the best fertilizer available. If someone burns it(aside form being a waste), you can do what you do now when someone burns a pile of grass all night long. You call the Fire Department, and they come put it out.
Dragonfly June 19, 2012 at 09:22 PM
It could be composted, but honestly I'm not a expert on chicken poop so I don't really know. I'm sure if the yard is big enough and it was composted it could be then be used to spread around trees and bushes.
Matt J June 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Butch, the amount of chicken waste produced by 4-5 hens is miniscule and is easily composted in the garden (same amount of waste produced as your neighbor's medium sized dog and less smelly). In fact the nitrogen content of chicken waste makes it a superior organic fertilizer for both lawn and garden applications. Menards sells it! I think Mr. Racich's proposal is to put a limit on the number of hens you're allowed to raise, keep it small scale and limited... and no noisy roosters. Hens hardly make a peep and do not bark. And let's keep those backyard coops small and attractive. With the economic climate the way it is I think it makes sense to allow folks to raise their own eggs and vegetables... we did the same thing during the depression. Four to five fresh eggs a day can help feed a family. It fed mine.
Matt J June 19, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I like the idea of goats and pigs but lets face it... you can quietly raise a couple hens on less than a 1/4 acre of land... people are doing it right now in downtown Chicago. Goats and pigs are a much larger footprint and produce much more waste.
Plainfield Haberdasher June 20, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I agree with Miguel, we SHOULD be allowed to raise chimps!
Tom Nosal June 20, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I for one did not build a new house and move to Plainfield to live next to a chicken farm. But I've never lived next to someone who raised chickens in their backyard so I have no idea what that experience is like. Maybe the best thing to do is hear from those people who do live next door to someone who raises chickens to get their viewpoint. It's easy to say there is no problem if they're your chickens. Let's hear from the neighbors. Question. Will this have any affect on the problems with coyotes in the neighborhood? As in attracting more of them?
MelloYello June 20, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I've lived near chickens and they STINK! As to size of the waste...think of the nastiest cat litter you've ever smelled and multiply that by 50. Litter boxes are small but the smell can be overwhelming. Same goes for chicken waste. My concern would be the diseases these animals spread including Avian Flu. I hope the board rejects this idea. If you want to raise wild life, buy a farm.
Stacy June 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I have absolutely no problem with my next door neighbor keeping a chicken coop. I'd much rather have that then neighbors who let their dogs run loose.
Matt J June 20, 2012 at 06:11 PM
MelloYello... did you live near a chicken "farm" or simply a family who raised three or four hens for eggs? I think we are exaggerating the facts again. Chicken farms, like cow farms or horse farms, do have a noticeable odor that some would not consider "pleasant". But I think we're talking about three to five hens... not a farm of dozens or even hundreds of chickens producing hundreds of pounds of waste. And the idea of buying a farm to raise wild life? Would you give the same advice to your neighbor who wants to grow a couple tomato or cucumber plants so he can provide fresh, organic vegetables for his family?? Many of us grow our own vegetables in order to reduce our energy footprint (a growing National security issue) and limit exposure to pesticides... why not allow a few folks to raise a couple eggs each day? Let's not confuse Frank Purdue's large scale chicken farms with a handfull of hens in the backyard.
Dragonfly June 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I'm glad you brought up the Avian Flu because one of the main factors in that even coming about and spreading like it did was because of the way LARGE commercial farms house their animals. Overly large groupings, high stress, exposed to chemicals, antibiotics, sub-par feed and care with high stress. If people were allowed to own a handful of chickens, kept clean and fed well this might not have ever been a problem.
bmaeh June 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Let the chickens stay!
Michelle S June 21, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I agree let the chickens stay. It is a great life lesson for the children. I have neighbors dogs who do not walk on a leash and poop in my yard. A diffrent neighbor has a pigeon cope. This family is being responsible, they have the cope matching their house even!!!
Gigismomo June 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/news/13308111-418/will-county-familys-chickens-need-to-fly-the-coop.html Another great story showing support on this issue
Genie616 June 21, 2012 at 10:53 PM
For those of you who are interested in this article, please read the article posted by Gigismomo. This story was also covered by CBS news. Here is a link to that one: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/06/21/will-county-family-told-to-get-rid-of-their-chickens/ It was also broadcast on WBBM radio. There has been a Facebook page started for anyone who is interested in directly supporting the people involved in the article. If you have a Facebook you can go to it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/431585523540122/
Agrippina Minor June 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Maybe some of you have escaped this recession unscathed, and that's wonderful for you. Our family, however, has been absolutely devastated by economic turmoil these last few years. And on top of that, our kids think that their chicken nuggets are born in a plastic bag in a freezer case at Wal-Mart. I can't think of a better way to begin to teach them a little about how to be self-sustaining, and at the same time gain an appreciation for the lives that went into their Happy Meals. We're not talking about "farms." We're talking just a few female birds. As far as I know, it's legal to have parrots, cockatoos, macaws, finches, parakeets, canaries and lovebirds. Why hate on the chickens? They're every bit as domestic as any other "legal" bird.
Denise Baker June 28, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I believe chicken (hens only) should be allowed in unincorporated Will county and neighborhoods of sufficiently large lots.. They are a clean and useful pet. They are not noisy or smelly. Chickens return to us in many ways. They give us clean eggs to eat and share with our neighbors. They teach responsibility, empathy & compassion to our children. They give children something to do other than video games. They give us fertilizer for our lawns and gardens. They will turn our gardens for us. They eat ticks (including those carrying Lyme disease), spiders, centipedes, June Bugs, Emerald Ash Borer, Japanese Beetles, Gypsy Moths, etc. They have personalities and are capable of giving back affection. They warn us of loose canines running amok so we are not surprised by a viscous off leash dog have just gotten away from it's owner.
Miguel Sanchez June 28, 2012 at 09:10 PM
For those that are pro-chicken, how many eggs do you eat a day and what are your cholesterol levels? Apple trees and vegetable gardens are both quiet and do not stink. Things to consider.
Lisa S. July 19, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I am with you Butch. First off...most of the lots in Plainfield are small. Not a whole lot of room for chickens. I don;t want my neighbor raising chickens 10 feet or less from my bedroom window! And the smell is absolutely horrifying. I have personally experienced the hell of living next door to a 'small flock' and would never do it again. You can claim it won't smell because people will keep the enclosures clean. But not everyone will.
Lisa S. July 19, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Those birds all have one thing in common...they are inside pets. i am all for people raising chickens in their living rooms if they so choose.
J.D August 14, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Those that have chickens do not eat all the eggs- they share those healthy eggs with neighbors, friends and family. What egg would you prefer to eat or better yet, would you feed your children? A) a healthy organic egg loaded with vitamins B) a pale, infested egg with no nutritional value because the hen was not cared for or fed properly Things to consider....
Lisa S. August 16, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Somehow I think I'd prefer one of those "a pale, infested eggs with no nutritional value" to chickens outside my bedroom window any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But I guess that makes me a bad Mom.
Lisa S. August 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM
saw what I assume is your deleted comment...I want my children to live in a healthy, clean environment which is not subject to the blight of urban chicken farms. Additonally, in this economy I seriously doubt that having that in your backyard or your neighbors is going to help your property values any (my professional opinion). Last I checked most sperbarkets sell organic. there's a good alternative and supporting your local economy as well.

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