Green Minds LFLB thanks the Village of Lake Bluff, and welcomes the chicken and beekeeping pilot program. We find it a well thought out proposal that tackles some of the problems that can occur when people keep bees and chickens.
There are many pros to keeping chickens, such as sustainable, socio-economic and environmental benefits. Chickens largely reduce our food waste as chicken owners can serve left overs to their chickens instead of sending them to the landfill. Chickens eat mosquitos and ticks that otherwise spread diseases. They are delightful pets, and are used as service animals for children with disabilities. And most importantly they give delicious eggs back daily.
As to Mr. Al Boese’s letter to the editor of DailyNorthShore on October 9, (titled What Value Do Chicken Coops Bring to Lake Bluff?), Green Minds LFLB challenges several of his complaints. Since when do we need to start regulating families’ rights to provide for themselves, when it does not bother or harm anyone?
Keeping chickens usually does not bother neighbors. Green Minds LFLB knows of 20-30 families in our community keeping chickens and other birds as pets and we do not know of any complaints in Lake Bluff. Why do these 30 families in our community have to be criminalized, when no one even noticed them? On the contrary, the police have many issues between neighbors and barking dogs throughout the night.
Mr. Boese brings up health dangers and the link he uses to validate the threat does not mention chickens as a cause of POHS. It specifically says “Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by Histoplasma capsulatum (H. capsulatum), a soil fungus prevalent in certain parts of the American continent, in particular the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys”. We agree with Mr. Boese that birds can be carriers of this disease but that is mainly wild birds that migrate. We strongly advise against an ordinance against wild birds.
As to chicken waste, it has in fact been used for decades as a fertilizer on numerous properties in our community. The only difference is that most of us pay for it and then pay our landscapers to truck in this fertilizer, while chicken owners can enjoy it for free.
We understand humans can get diseases from poultry such as salmonella and histoplasmosis. But these diseases are rare in backyard chickens, and preventable by proper care for the animals, which the Village has addressed in its restrictions. On the contrary cats often carry toxoplasmosis, which is seriously dangerous to pregnant women, children and immune-compromised people. Cats are known to travel peoples yards and pose a much larger real threat to our community. While we love animals and pets we think it is important to put these issues into perspective and not overreact by banning people’s choice of pets, being it a cat, dog, duck or chicken.
Backyard chickens are popular among younger families and in big cities such as Manhatten, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Boston, Pittsburg, Houston, etc. Chickens have been allowed for years in these communities — so why not in suburban Lake Bluff, which in fact has much more space between homes than these cities?
Lastly, Mr. Boese brings up diminished desirability and property values. We at Green Minds LFLB know of realtors specifically being asked to find homes where chickens will not be a problem. Some families have chosen not to live in Lake Forest for this reason. Today we did a survey of the 10 richest cities in America; a list compiled by Forbes and 24/7WallSt. All the Top 10 cities allow backyard chickens. None of these Top 10 rich cities in the nation seems to have issues with property values.
Green Minds LFLB hopes that the City of Lake Forest will learn from Lake Bluff and other affluent, highly educated communities in the nation and allow chickens, of course with restrictions to prevent nuisance and harm to the community.
The following communities allow chicken coops and/or bee hives:
- Scarsdale New York
- Short Hills, NJ
- Great Falls, VA
- Rolling Hills, CA
- Travilah, Maryland — legal in Montgomery County
- West University Place, Texas
- Belle Meade, TN
- Darien, CT
- New York City
For further reference:
Green Minds LFLB Board of Directors
David Bedrin, Marion Cartwright, Eva Hellman, Yuh M M Schabacker-Koppel
Green Minds LFLB