Rooster boosters get village to table a law to count your chickens

 

by Michael Gilbert

Regional correspondent

A pro-rooster in the chicken coop group managed to persuade Palos Park officials on Monday to table a vote on an ordinance to limit the number of fowl a resident can raise and ban roosters from chicken coops on residential property.

An ordinance was before the Palos Park Village Council that would have prohibited any resident from owning a rooster. It also would have restricted any resident living on a lot less than one acre from owning more than five chickens and any resident on a lot more than an acre from owning more than 10 chickens. The ordinance further stated chickens be confined in a pen, coup or building at all times and those enclosures be cleaned every 24 hours.

Palos Park officials have heard from a handful of residents over the years in support of such an ordinance regulating chicken coops, but Monday’s Village Council meeting was the first time commissioners have heard from the other side. Three residents addressed the council to voice their displeasure with the potential ordinance. With that opposition now present, Palos Park officials decided to hold off on a vote and next bring the ordinance up for discussion at the meeting on Monday, Sept. 22.

“We’re just going to try to find a happy medium,” Commissioner G. Darryl Reed said. “Over the next month we are going to look at any and all information that will help us make a decision. I’ve been hearing about this issue for two years, but I’ve only heard from one side about the noise and the potential health hazards of having chickens and tonight was the first night I’ve heard from the pro chicken group and they brought their facts and figures. Now we are starting to get the full picture so there was no reason for us to be hasty and make a decision tonight.”

Palos Park Police Chief Joe Miller said the department rarely receives complaints about chickens, but that a “sporadic” number of calls come in each year from residents reporting noisy roosters.

“Normally if we get a call its that someone was awoken at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. by a rooster,” Miller said. “What we do [in those cases] is we seek compliance and knock on the door and tell them there was complaint about noise and a rooster and we want them to be aware of that. This happens very sporadic; it’s not an everyday occurrence.”

Resident Bob Wade addressed the council on behalf of his father-in-law Arthur Janecke, 91, who has had roosters and chickens for a food source at his home on Winslow Road since the 1950s. Wade said Janecke now keeps about nine chickens and one rooster. He told the council that he decided to look at the noise complaints “objectively” and using a cell phone app recorded the noise decibel level of his father-in-law’s rooster from various distances.

Wade, who has started the grassroots group Citizens for Roosters on Winslow, or CROW, said inside the chicken coup the rooster’s crow was measured at 85 decibels. The sound level dropped to 52 decibels when standing 100 feet back from the chicken coup and 48 decibels on the edge of his father-in-law’s property.

“The ambient sound of just the wind and everything was just 47 decibels,” Wade said. “If anyone complains about a rooster we are looking at roughly the equivalent of a discussion in a living room in a suburban household.

“We only have one rooster and when we get complaints we put him back right away. That only happens about twice a year.”

The council told Wade that if the ordinance is approved in its current state his father-in-law would be “grandfathered in” and would not have to remove his rooster. However, if the rooster were to die it was unknown if he would be able to replace it.

“I don’t know if the regulations address that issue,” Reed said when asked by Commissioner James Pavlatos if a grandfathered in resident could replace a dead rooster.

Mayor John Mahoney said he needed to know what type of complaints the village gets and how many roosters are in Palos Park before he would be ready to vote.

“I’m reading the plan commission report [on this issue] and there is nothing in the record that would illuminate to me why we [need to prohibit roosters] other than roosters make noise,” Mahoney said. “It would have been helpful for me to know how many roosters there are in Palos Park before I consider something like this.”

Reed echoed Mahoney’s and Pavlatos’ sentiments that there needs to be more time to discuss the proposed ordinance.

“There are a number of open issues that need to be resolved before I feel comfortable [voting],” Reed said. “I don’t know which way to go and until we get more information I suggest we don’t do anything tonight.”

Reed said council will use the information Wade presented at the meeting, as well as commission Community Development Director Lori Sommers to gather facts on both sides of the issue and report back to the council.

Palos Park’s current ordinance does restrict the number of chickens or roosters one can have their home.

Color-page-one-2-col-top-left-Palos-park-story-copy

Photo by Michael Gilbert

Palos Park resident Bob Wade implores members of the Village Council to vote against an ordinance that would prohibit residents from owning roosters. Wade has formed the grassroots group Citizens for Roosters on Winslow, or CROW, and presented Palos Park officials with a petition signed by 28 of his neighbors asking the council not to restrict residents from owning roosters.

 

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