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Alex Whitehead wants Bridgeview residents to be allowed to keep chickens in their yards. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Alex Whitehead wants Bridgeview residents to be allowed to keep chickens in their yards. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview resident wants to keep chickens in yard

By Steve Metsch

Bridgeview has been home to the Fire, the Red Stars and thousands of Parrot Heads. Who’s ready for some chickens?

Alex Whitehead, a six-year resident of Bridgeview, has proposed that residents be permitted to raise chickens in their yards.

“I think we can make a case for chickens being allowed,” she told the village board at its Sept. 15 meeting.

“I don’t want a rooster,” she said. “I want fresh eggs from chickens to provide for my family.”

Whitehead, who lives in the 7200 block of 74th Street, noted that Chicago and Countryside allow residents to raise chickens.

“I’m already a gardener. I have the perfect place for them behind the garage,” Whitehead said. “Chickens and eggs are going up in price a lot.”

Mayor Steve Landek said village staff would consult with Countryside to see how that’s working out in that community.

“Our hesitancy is there are responsible people who will keep their chickens clean,” Landek said. “But there are others who won’t.”

Trustee Claudette Struzik did not like Whitehead’s idea.

“The rats are going to come to eat the feed,” Struzik said. “And then they will eat the chickens. Then you have racoons. Once you have feed on the ground, it’s a problem.”

“I can understand what she’s trying to do,” Struzik said. “But she’s one person. Then the person next door says, ‘Oh, we can do that? Then we can do something else. We’ll bring in ducks’.”

“I don’t know,” she added. “Countryside may have a handle on it.”

Whitehead, who grew up on farm in a rural area outside Kankakee, remains confident: “I’m here to battle.”

Landek noted that other towns have made it work, adding “we’ll look at the issue.”

“Some (chicken coops) are beautiful, like little apartment buildings,” Landek said. “But chickens are a mess.”

Village Clerk John Altar said a neighbor a few blocks from his home has a rooster. Altar said it doesn’t bother him too much.

“It doesn’t wake me up, but I’ll hear ‘cockadoodledo’,” said Altar, who fondly recalled spending summers on a downstate farm as a boy.

Whitehead also suggested it may be better for the environment if more residents replace their grass lawns with moss or something else that doesn’t use as much water.

Landek said “it just can’t be paved” because paving yards limits the amount of rainwater that can permeate into the ground.

“You want to have a rock garden? That’s okay,” Landek said.

Whitehead also asked if residents are allowed to have rain barrels to collect water from their downspouts. They are permitted, officials said.

Trustee James Cecott told her to contact the MWRD, which has a rain barrel program.

Whitehead thanked the village for installing a speed bump on Octavia Avenue just north of 74th Street near her home.

“It’s helped so much,” said Whitehead, whose children are 12 and 5 years old. “People were just flying through when traffic backs up on Harlem.”

In other business, the board approved spending $225,000 for new sod at SeatGeek Stadium. The sod will cover the entire field, Landek said.

Landek said the new sod was not a surprise and had been budgeted for.

“It’s been eight years since we replaced the turf,” Landek said.

“Turf is only good eight to 10 years,” he said. “The first time we went nine or 10 years. Sooner or later, it needs to be changed.”

A street repaving project in the village has been delayed about 10 weeks, but bids are expected by Sept. 27 with work to begin soon after.

“It’s long overdue,” Landek said.

The board also approved the emergency hiring of firefighter/paramedic Frank Loeza.

His hiring was to fill an unexpected vacancy on the fire department, Trustee Patricia Higginson said.

The board also approved a recommendation from the Zoning, Planning and Development Commission to grant a special use permit for the operation of an automobile repair shop at 8754-56 S. 78th Ave.

The shop will not be allowed to park vehicles outside overnight, and will have room for eight vehicles indoors, according to the application.

The board next meets at 7 p.m. Oct. 6.

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