Streator keeps ban on raising chickens

Council members raise concerns about residents following rules

Michelle Proksa holds one end of a tape measure and Sandy Austin holds another end (out of the picture frame) to demonstrate how far 20 feet is to the Streator City Council on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. They said it's closer than they were comfortable allowing chickens roam near their properties.

Streator residents will not be allowed to raise chickens at their homes.

The Streator City Council agreed, reaching a consensus Tuesday, not to pursue an ordinance allowing up to six chickens at a residence, instead opting to clean up language in its ordinance to make it clear chickens are not allowed.

At its February committee of the whole meeting, the City Council asked City Manager David Plyman to research ordinances in other communities and draft what rules may look like in Streator if residents were allowed to raise chickens.

Plyman said council members should consider the number of property maintenance and nuisance complaints the city receives in whether it wants to allow the chickens. Since the council publicized it was going to review the rules on raising chickens, Plyman said he received one citizen’s call, concerned about issues with neighbors not following existing property codes.

Who would be responsible?

—  Brian Crouch, city council member asks about if a roaming chicken is injured by a dog

Council member Brian Crouch said he was concerned with what happens if a loose chicken is attacked by a neighboring dog, especially if that chicken was outside its property.

“Who would be responsible for that?” Crouch asked.

Crouch also said he’s concerned with predators, such as coyotes, being attracted to residential areas.

Council member Timothy Geary said he was concerned about the amount of time city staff may have to spend on policing whether residents are taking proper care of their chickens and following city rules.

The topic of raising chickens was brought up by a number of residents calling City Hall when the price of eggs increased. No one attended Tuesday’s meeting in favor of allowing chickens. Two residents commented in opposition of allowing them.

After reviewing ordinances in place allowing chickens, the city reviewed an ordinance that would require a permit to raise chickens, limit the number of chickens to six and prohibit roosters; prohibit people who have been convicted of property maintenance, nuisance or animal violations within the past three years from getting permits; provide reasonable standards for coop and chicken runs; and keep the coops at least 10 feet from property lines, 20 feet from neighboring homes and require screening by a privacy fence.

Plyman noted the council could adapt any of the rules how it wishes.

Streator resident Sandy Austin brought a measuring tape and demonstrated visually to the council how far 20 feet was, saying she would not want a neighbor’s chicken living that close to her house. She also said she was concerned about the mess chickens make and if residents would care for them properly.

Streator resident Michelle Proksa followed Austin’s comments, noting poultry carry diseases harmful to people and other animals.

After the council reached a consensus not to allow residents to raise chickens, Bedei said she still wants the language in the city ordinance to be more clear.

Although city code prohibits the raising of farm animals on residential properties, staff has allowed certain residents to raise up to three chickens, interpreting them to be pets. City staff estimated about 10 residents own chickens and Bedei believed those will be grandfathered into any action the council takes, meaning those residents will be allowed to keep those chickens.

The city code says: No swine shall be kept in the city. Horses and other farm animals shall not be kept in any residential zones. Bedei said the code should say chickens are not allowed to be raised in residential or commercial areas, but also be sure the ordinance allows for the sale of chicks at R.P. Home and Harvest.

The council will review the new ordinance at its next committee of the whole meeting in April.