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Palos Hills tightens rules on chicken coops

  • Written by By Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills is on the verge of adding a bit more meat to its chicken ordinance.

City officials voted 8-0 on May 5 to direct City Attorney George Pappas to draft an amendment to the city’s chicken ordinance imposing rules and regulations for chicken coops and runs. Ald. Ricky Moore (4th Ward) and Dawn Nowak (5th Ward) were absent.

Palos Hills officials could vote on the amendments as soon as the May 19 council meeting, but delaying the vote until next month is also possible, Ald. Joan Knox (1st Ward) said.

If the amendments are approved, no chicken shall be permitted to roam at large and instead must be kept in a coop or run. The coop and run must also be located in the rear of the yard at least 25 feet from the property line and at least 25 feet from another house. In addition, the coup shall provide a minimum of four square feet of floor area per chicken and the run provide a minimum of eight square feet of floor area per chicken.

Knox credited new animal control ordinance officer Beverly Williams with strengthening up the chicken ordinance.

“Our new (animal control) ordinance officer came on board in January and said there are a couple places she is lacking direction as far as chicken coop size and setback from yards and side yards,” Knox said when asked the impetus for the likely additions to the ordinance. “She brought that to our attention and said we can tighten it up and she brought some information to us that was really good.”

According to the proposed amendments, the coop must be built to provide ventilation, shade, protection from precipitation and cold weather and be secure from predators, wild birds and rodents. Furthermore, the coop and run must be kept clean and dry at all times and manure and uneaten food be removed regularly.

Palos Hills is also asking all residents who house chickens to fill out a registration form with city. Unlike the $5 license fee for each dog, cat, horse and ferret, there is no charge for keeping chickens, according to Ald. AJ Pasek (3rd Ward).

Last year the city amended its chicken ordinance to limit the number of chickens one could keep to four – the city previously did not have a restriction – and also prohibit any resident from owning a rooster. Pasek said the city has no intention of changing that part of the ordinance in the near future. The city grandfathered those residents with more than four chickens but made it clear they were not allowed to replace a deceased chicken if they had more than four.

“I know a person in town who has six (chickens) and I already talked to her and told her that when one dies you can’t replace it,” Pasek said. “We don’t have too many people in town with more than the limit (of four).”

Those found to have more than four chickens without the grandfather clause are subject to a fine of $80 per day, Williams said.

In other news, the council presented retiring Water and Sewer division Chief Joe Slisz with a plaque to commemorate his 43 years with the city.

Slize’s final day with the city was May 5.

“Joe, we are going to miss you,” Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd Ward) said. “(You are) a dedicated employee and very knowledgeable. Best wishes to a long and happy retirement.”

Ald. Marty Kleefisch (1st Ward) praised Slisz for the work he did, especially in unfavorable conditions.

“When my wife and I are driving out of the city sometimes we see our public works crews doing all types of different jobs and quite often in very bad weather,” Kleefisch said. “But you did it to keep us up and running and we need to say ‘thank you.’”

Slize had worked for Palos Hills since May 4, 1973.

“I had a great bunch of guys and people in administration above and under me,” Slisz said. “They will all be very much missed.”

Also at the meeting, Pasek told the council and a handful of residents in attendance that the popular hot dog-eating contest will return to the city’s annual Friendship Festival.

The contest, which was a big success in its inaugural year in 2015, is slated to be held at approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 10.

Pasek also said he hopes to add two pie-eating contests – one for youngsters and one for adults – to this year’s fest lineup.

The details of all three contests are still being finalized and Pasek said he hopes to have information on registration within the next month.