Chickens in Lansing? I’m sure the title above sets off all kinds of alarms in your head:
- Chickens smell!
- Chickens are loud!
- Chickens are at risk from predators!
But what if none of these are true? Or rather, none of them are necessarily true.
- Chickens produce bad odors only when their coops are dirty. If the coop is well maintained, smell isn’t an issue.
- Male chickens — called roosters — are loud, but female chickens — called hens — only make occasional gentle noises. (Plus, contrary to typical understanding, hens can produce eggs without need of a rooster.)
- Chickens can be at risk from predators, but a well-constructed coop keeps them perfectly safe.
Further still, there are lots of benefits to allowing responsible residential chicken-keeping. To name a few:
- Chickens are fun, friendly pets with educational value for all, especially young children.
- Chickens provide a source of healthy nutrition for all and a source of food security for those without it.
- Eggs laid by free-range chickens are healthier than most eggs sold in typical grocery stores.
- Chicken manure provides home gardeners with high-quality fertilizer.
- Chickens help control various insects and pests (rather than adding to them, as commonly assumed).
There are lots of easy ways to make sure chicken-keeping happens in a responsible manner. Ordinances in communities near ours require things like keeping only a certain number of hens, keeping your coop a certain distance from property lines, providing food and clean water to hens at all times, and securing a license before obtaining chickens.
So then: why not allow Lansing residents to responsibly keep a reasonable number of hens on their residential properties? It seems that there is a lot of upside and little to no downside. Backyard chickens can be a great contributor to the vibrancy of a local community!
If you agree (and I hope you do!), I hope you’ll support my initiative to have the Lansing Code of Ordinances amended so that residents can legally keep chickens. In the coming weeks I will be publicizing a proposal for consideration by the Village Board of Trustees, as well as a sample of an amended ordinance. The proposal will allow like-minded residents to digitally sign their name in support of the change. Once the proposal has been sufficiently publicized, I’ll bring it to a Village Board meeting to present our request to the Trustees and the Mayor. (I’d love for you to join me!)
For now, I invite you to join the Facebook group “Backyard Chickens in Lansing IL” to show your support, connect with like-minded residents, and stay aware of the proposal’s progress. You can contact me personally on Facebook or through email if you’d like to lend your support, ask questions, or raise concerns.
A 2014 article in the NWI Times entitled “Lansing clarifies ordinance; no farm animal raising in village limits” (behind paywall) records then-Village Administrator J Wynsma citing what seems to be the fundamental reason given for Lansing’s prohibition of chicken-keeping: “We’re really not a farm community any more, we’re residential…. This [change in the ordinance] just acknowledges that fact.” If surrounding residential communities such as Munster, South Holland, Homewood, and even Chicago — one of the most bustling urban centers in the world — allow residents to keep chickens, it would seem that this reason holds no water.
What’s to keep Lansing from joining the trend of adding to its community life by allowing residents to keep chickens?
Adam Barker, Lansing resident
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