UPDATE: Proposed Amendment Would Limit Hen Coops Based on Location
A proposed amendment that may be discussed at tonight's city council meeting would change the current hen ordinance to allow three coops per ward.
UPDATE: Craig Garfield added that while he believes the new ordinance may make things more complicated for potential hen owners, he said he and Ald. Ann Rainey are on good terms and have been working together on hen issues in Evanston. He said he does not want it to appear as if there is an antagonistic relationship between them, as there is not.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, has introduced an amendment to the city's hen ordinance that, if passed, would allow three coops per ward. This is a change from the current ordinance, which allows 20 coops total anywhere in the city.
"I want to make sure that hens are distributed fairly across the city, Rainey said. "That's my only reason for doing it. No other hidden agenda, no nothing."
"There just aren't enough chicken coops to go around under the ordinance. Nobody should be allowed to hoard chicken coops," she added.
Hen owner and 8th Ward resident Craig Garfield said that the current city ordinance is very strict, though the new amendment would not affect him since he has already received a license for the two hens he keeps in his yard.
"We have one of the most restrictive hen ordinances of the 25 or so that we examined," Garfield said. "The limitation to 20 coops for a city our size is unheard of."
"There are many obstacles put in place for any citizen wanting to keep a few hens in their back yard. When you compare it to the ability of a citizen to keep 2 pit bulls, it is almost a joke," Garfield said.
The process for owning a hen, he said, is long and complicated that it may deter the average citizens from pursuing hen ownership. Adding ward restrictions to the process would make it even harder.
Hugh Bartling, a public policy professor at DePaul University who has spoken to the Evanston City Council about hen ownership, said he believes the proposed amendment is not a minor one.
"There is no reason to control geographic distribution. I can't even figure out the logic behind limiting coops to 3 per ward," Bartling said.
Bartling said that his students did a study in which they asked 23 other municipalities across the nation who currently have chicken ordinances whether or not they have modified their ordinances since their initial passage.
"Only four cites reported modifying their ordinances," Bartling said. "In three cases they modified them to make chicken owning even easier, not harder, like Rainey's ordinance. In the fourth case, they reported 'minor' changes."
The amendment is currently on the consent agenda for introduction, meaning action may or may not be taken on the issue Monday night.