A city ordinance change will be needed to make backyard chickens a reality in Edwardsville. A group is trying to collect 1,000 petition signatures to get the process started.
Imagine stepping out your back door, opening your chicken coop and bringing in fresh eggs for your morning breakfast.
If a group of Edwardsville residents has its way, this will be a possibility in the near future.
In March, Micah Wall and friends began researching the process to have the city of Edwardsville allow backyard chicken coops within the city limits. City ordinances prevent keeping anything other than domestic pets, such as cats and dogs. To change this, a city ordinance revision will be required.
“My wife and I discussed the idea and decided this is something that would make the life we’ve built in Edwardsville better,” Wall said. “We reached out to other people and found that area residents were very supportive with very little negative feedback. That is when we started researching the process.”
The first step was to collect signatures on a petition indicating community support for the idea. Wall and his group of supporters have collected about 600 signatures to date, both through an online petition and in person, primarily at the weekly Goshen Market in downtown Edwardsville.
Specifically, the request is to allow up to six chickens on the property, no roosters. The chicken housing, or coops, will have specific requirements. Anyone raising chickens will be required to be actual property owners, not renters. Other guidelines will be established through humane laws and requirements governed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
“We also want to assure that there are plans in place for surrendering chickens should owners change their minds and/or move from their location,” Wall said. “We have started the process of establishing a list of placement locations for the chickens. We don’t want them taken to animal control or local humane societies where they are not equipped to handle them. There are always farmers or others looking to add to their chicken population.”
Of course, many have misconceptions about chickens and their impact on the neighborhood. Wall and his group address those concerns as they come up. For example, because there will be no roosters allowed, the noise factor is eliminated. Chickens are relatively quiet. Another concern is waste odor. Wall and others are quick to point out that proper maintenance of the coop and area, along with oversight by Community Service officers in the city, should eliminate this concern.
Once the goal of 1,000 signatures is secured on the petition, the next step will be to submit the petition to the city for action. Ward 5 Alderman William Krause has been in contact with the group and is supportive of its efforts.
“This is a true democratic grassroots effort by the group,” Krause said. “If there is sufficient movement by residents to have the city pursue the keeping of limited chickens, than I believe it is worth discussing with planning staff, Community Service officers and council. This would need to be a collaborative process, one that considers all facets of managing chickens in an urban environment.”
Krause also points out that this is not a unique idea. In fact, Webster Groves, Clayton and Ladue in Missouri have similar ordinances. The city of Edwardsville will be able to reach out to them for guidance and implementation plans.
In the meantime, Micah and his group will continue the process of gathering support from residents. He urges everyone to check out the group’s Facebook page, Backyard Hens for Edwardsville, for more information. Anyone interested in signing the group’s petition can visit their GoPetition site at ht.ly/Ov5V302hJje or look for them at Goshen Market on Saturday, July 30, where they will be able to answer questions.