ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An ordinance that would allow homeowners to keep up to four hens inside a permitted chicken coop was voted on at Rockford City Council Monday night.
The “Hen Ordinance” did not pass city council, but this was not the first, or last, time that this issue will be discussed.
“5 yes, 9 no… the item does not pass,” city council decided.
Egg prices have seen an increase recently, and the ordinance was a way to source food locally. This would impact Martin Quirk and his family, who try to eat food from within 70 miles of Rockford.
“You aren’t eating eggs that are coming from Iowa or California,” Quirk said. “You’re producing them in your own backyard, and you reduce your carbon footprint.”
Council suggested that a pilot program would allow 30 residents to own hens for a year, and they could then make changes based on how the year went. Many aldermen were in support of the program, but one alderman voted no for an issue that it causes.
“The grandfathering clause, so if it doesn’t work out then we were going to allow the people that, the 30, to continue to have them, and my point was, ‘well, if it’s not working out, it’s based on those 30,'” said 4th Ward Alderman Kevin Frost. “So, why would we let the 30 continue to have hens in their backyard if really, frankly, the reason it’s not working out is because of them?”
Frost said that he just wanted that clause removed, and the details of the ordinance were not there. The topic might come up in discussion again soon.
“This isn’t going away,” said 9th Ward Alderman Bill Rose. “I think that families have made it very clear that they’re interested in this, so I’m not going to call this as a loss.”
Quirk, who has been pushing for the ordinance for six years, said that making it to council is still a step forward.
“I think it was less of an absolute no and more of not right now with the current ordinance,” he said.
Residents should contact their local alderman if this is a change they would like to see.