A Collinsville resident who was cited by the city for keeping chickens in a residential area suggested a change to city code.
Roughly four months later, an ordinance was brought before the City Council, which it voted unanimously to approved at its Monday night meeting, allowing the keeping of chickens in city limits. Councilman Jeff Kypta was not in attendance.
The city’s planning commission — including Mitch Bair, community development director and interim city manager — discussed the possibility and heard from other residents at public hearings before the ordinance made it to the council. Bair wrote in a commission memo that the community was “generally all in support” of allowing chickens in residential districts.
Bair said during the City Council meeting that this was “one of the most participated in” issues in his opinion.
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A report submitted to the council states that nine residents attended the hearings and provided testimony in support of allowing chickens in the city, and that posts on the city’s Facebook and Twitter pages yielded 106 comments, with only four comments against allowing chickens in residential areas.
The Collinsville Planning Commission, which recommended the council approve the ordinance, changed its position on residential chickens since the discussion began in July.
“Initially staff’s position was one of denial due to administrative issues associated with administering the program,” Bair wrote in the commission memo.
Mayor John Miller said during the meeting he had changed his position on allowing chickens in Collinsville, too.
“I can tell you that I was extremely upset when this came forth because I just couldn’t see the need for people to raise chickens in their backyard,” Miller said. “I’m not against chicken. I love chicken. I love fried chicken. ... I’m just not sure I want chickens running around my neighbor’s yard.”
He said he has since changed his mind.
Miller, along with Councilman Jeff Stehman, Councilwoman Nancy Moss and Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich voted in favor of the ordinance and the removal of a clause that would have given the ordinance a three-year trial term. It will take effect 30 days after its passage and recording in the city clerk’s office.
Moss said she had done the math quickly but anticipated “we could be on the road to welcoming 400 chickens before too long.”
In St. Clair County, the Zoning Board of Appeals has denied multiple efforts to have chickens allowed in unincorporated residential areas of the county. The matter will go before the County Board on Nov. 30. Madison County, on the other hand, permits the keeping of chickens, according to Bair.
The following restrictions will apply to Collinsville residents who hope to keep chickens:
▪ Requirement of a three-year permit, which would include a detailed drawing of the yard, coop, run and fencing. No more than 75 permits will be allowed in the entire city. Fees related to the permit will be established at a later date.
▪ Requirement of an inspection prior to issuance of a permit. Bair said there will be no other inspections unless a complaint is received.
▪ Limit to owner-occupied single family residential properties with the primary residential structure being detached.
▪ Allowance of a minimum of two and maximum of six chickens. The number of chickens allowed at a particular property will be determined by lot size — 1,500 square feet per chicken.
▪ Restriction of chickens to the rear yard. Corner lots without sufficient rear yard space will not be eligible for a permit. Chickens will not be allowed in a residential structure, including a garage, and will not be allowed outside of the rear-yard area. The city will require chicken owners to clip the chickens’ wings to reduce the possibility of escape.
▪ Requirement of a minimum of 4 square feet per chicken in residential chicken coops. The size of coops will be required to not exceed 50 square feet and 7 feet tall. They will be required to be located a minimum of 15 feet from the side and rear property lines and no less than 25 feet from any adjacent residence.
▪ Requirement of a minimum of 10 square feet of “run” or “free range” space per chicken.
▪ Requirement that owners provide fresh water; keep feed in predator, rodent and weather-proof containers; maintain coops in a safe, clean and sanitary condition. Any manure or waste will be required to be collected and properly removed from the premises or tilled into the soil on a regular basis to prevent offensive odors or conditions conducive to the spread of disease.
▪ Requirement that chickens be kept for purely domestic purposes. Slaughtering of chickens will not be permitted in residential areas. The sale of chickens, eggs or byproducts will not be permitted on the premises.
Collinsville resident Cindy Baker requested the amendment. It applies only to chickens, not roosters. Any resident who, like Baker, already keeps chickens in a residential area, has 90 days to obtain a permit, according to the ordinance.
In other business, the council also approved:
▪ Expenditure of $7,735.60 in tax increment financing funds to Uptown Capital Partners, 120 W. Main St., to repair its storefront facade, which is currently pulling away from the building. It is posing a threat to public safety, according to a report by Uptown Coordinator Leah Joyce, who is also the acting economic development director.
▪ Expenditure of $1,010 in TIF funds to Villa Chavinda Mexican Store, 308 W. Main St., to install an awning at the new business.
▪ Purchase of three unmarked vehicles from the Kansas Highway Patrol Fleet sales division using forfeiture funds for $58,500. The 2014 AWD Dodge Chargers are $19,500 each. They will be used by two patrol lieutenants and the investigations lieutenant, according to a report by Police Chief Steve Evans.
▪ Change in annual salary for the human resources coordinator position from $51,000 to $65,000. The position has recently been filled, according to Moss, by an applicant from northern Illinois. Moss was the only council member to vote against the salary increase, which she said she felt was too great. Bair said a salary study was conducted in January.
The Collinsville City Council meets next at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at City Hall, 125 S. Service St.
A special meeting/strategic session will take place Dec. 1. The Council will continue its discussion about a draft of the city’s 2016-2017 budget, which began during Monday night’s special meeting. It will also begin to discuss a draft of the city’s 2016-2017 strategic plan.
Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes
Weighing the pros, cons of residential chickens
According to a Collinsville Planning Commission memo written by Interim City Manager Mitch Bair, who is also the community development director, the following are the positive and negative aspects of backyard chickens.
- Eggs: On average, three hens would provide two eggs per day.
- Fertilizer: Chicken manure makes “excellent” fertilizer.
- Insect control: Chickens consume garden pests like Japanese beetles and grubs.
- Cost effective: Chickens do not require expensive food. They consume grass and table scraps.
- Good pets: Based on anecdotal evidence the commission considered, chickens each have their own personality and make good pets. They are also said to be lower maintenance than dogs or cats.
- Odor: Chicken manure can present odors if not properly taken care of in a timely manner.
- Noise: Hens make noise but are less noisy than barking dogs.
- Illness: Live poultry presents potential health concerns regarding the spread of salmonella.