If city council approves a new rule in the coming weeks, up to 20 lucky Edwardsville residents could become the proud owners of up to six hens each.
Aldermen were expected to introduce an ordinance at Tuesday night’s council meeting that would allow a backyard chicken experiment — an experiment the city has previously denied. But there is now enough community support to warrant a change in the rules, according to Alderman Will Krause.
“About a year ago, we saw a need in the community — a want that a lot of other progressive cities in our region have on the books. Basically thought, well, why not Edwardsville?” Krause said.
A community group known as Backyard Hens for Edwardsville collected more than 400 signatures and submitted the petition to the city, Krause said. Former Edwardsville resident Micah Wall initiated the effort, and resident Jeff Pauk recently took over management of the group.
Pauk said he and other supporters of the initiative are pleased with the progress.
“At this point, we’re just wanting to get something working. We feel strongly that there will not be any major issues with it,” Pauk said. “I understand the city’s reluctance, as far as not wanting to start a new program without taking a trial run.”
Pauk said chickens are a valuable educational resource to teach children about where their food comes from. Taking care of chickens makes for a good hobby, not to mention they make good pets, Pauk added.
Tuesday night’s meeting included only a reading of the ordinance, which will then go back to committee one more time for any “final checks,” Krause said. Aldermen expect to vote on the ordinance at their Jan. 2 meeting, Krause said.
Applicants would have to obtain a one-year occupancy permit for a chicken coop, which would have to be approved by the city’s building inspector. After an inspection, the applicant would have to obtain a license from the city clerk. If a residence is part of a homeowners association, the applicant would need approval from the association and from neighbors.
The city would charge $50 for the one-year license, plus building permit fees for the coop. Coops would have to be smaller than 50 square feet and 7 feet tall with at least 10 square feet of free-range space per chicken. They would have to be built at least five feet from property lines and at least 10 feet from the house.
If the experiment fails and the city reverses the ordinance, license-holders would be allowed to keep their chickens until the animals die, but they would not be allowed to replace the chickens.
The trial period will last for two years, after which the city will review how the experiment went over with residents. If it was a success, the number of allowed permits would increase to 40.
Under the ordinance, ducks, geese, pigeons, and other fowl or farm animals would still be prohibited.
Which metro-east communities allow backyard chickens?
Here is a list of metro-east communities that allow backyard chickens and the communities that have turned them down:
- Alton (since 2012), limit of five hens
- Collinsville (since November 2015), limit of six hens
- Fairview Heights
- Marissa, limit of six hens
- Madison County, only in agricultural zones
- O’Fallon, unlimited allowed in agricultural zone or limit of six hens per acre for rural residential, no more than 12 hens total
- Swansea (since January 2017)
- Troy, only allowed in agricultural zones