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Peoria City Council to consider allowing backyard chickens within city limits

Petitioner Kimberly Geraldo addresses the Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission regarding a submitted petition to consider allowing backyard chickens within Peoria city limits.
Petitioner Kimberly Geraldo addresses the Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission about a petition to consider allowing backyard chickens within Peoria city limits.

The Peoria City Council will consider allowing backyard chickens on properties within city limits at its June 25 meeting.

The Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission is forwarding a citizen petition to the council after hearing more than an hour of public comment at commission's June 6 meeting.

Speaking to the commission, petitioner Kimberly Geraldo said Peoria is in the minority of cities that do not allow chicken keeping.

“When you look at the 150 largest cities within the state, you will find that over 70% of those cities already allow backyard chickens,” she said. “So by allowing backyard chickens, we can align Peoria with these progressive and sustainable urban agricultural practices that many in the state have already adopted.”

The meeting was attended by a crowd of supporters wearing yellow to show their support. Geraldo said there are many benefits to keeping chickens in urban areas, and her arguments were supported by many other public comments.

“This initiative is aimed at fostering sustainable urban agriculture, enhancing local food security and providing educational opportunities for our community,” Geraldo said.

While many public comments supported chicken keeping, resident Alaysia Mitchell said she is concerned about keeping Peoria an urban community. Mitchell said she moved to Peoria for its urban feel.

“If I even drove by and saw chickens in the area, I would not have gotten out of the car to look at the property,” she said.

Mitchell also said the petition may not show the whole picture of what chicken-keeping in Peoria could look like, adding her concerns involve both the city and the safety of residents.

“I'm concerned about city staff and the additional burden on the city, or maybe the county, whoever's going to monitor the health of the chickens and the size of the coops and making sure things are in order. It seems like a potential extra burden on the city,” she said.

She also said she is concerned about attracting coyotes or other undesirable animals to the area.

Commissioner Ed Barry said he also is concerned about the additional task for Peoria County Animal Control and the Peoria Humane Society.

“If there were issues, if an ordinance was passed and there were issues, the first entity to be called would be PCAPS, and the second entity that frequently it falls to is the Humane Society in terms of addressing that” Barry said. “And I know the county is does not have spare folks to go out and check to make sure that the regulations you're proposing for, say a chicken coop, are being enforced.”

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.