EAST PEORIA — Bending to mild public disapproval, the East Peoria City Council reversed a decision and included on its Tuesday meeting agenda a proposed ordinance to allow for chickens within city limits.
Apparently to vote it down.
Two weeks ago, the council announced that because of a lack of majority support it would not vote on the ordinance that would allow for residents to keep up to five chickens, no roosters, in their backyards. The issue had been sporadically raised and discussed at council meetings for more than a year by a handful of residents who wanted to raise chickens in the city.
Resident Bob Sinks, the city's most vocal supporter of urban chickens, expressed his concern about the issue being dismissed without a vote.
"I didn’t expect (the ordinance) to fly," Sinks told the council earlier this month without the slightest hint that he was making a deliberate play on words. "I did want it at least to be voted for.”
Because the lack of a vote seemed less than final to some than would a straight-up vote of opposition, Commissioner John Kahl asked that the issue be brought to a vote. It is the first item on Tuesday's agenda following the vote on the consent agenda.
"As I have shared with those in support of allowing chickens that feel as though they have not been treated fairly, there are many topics that are brought forward but fail to go before council due to lack of support, and changing the ordinance to allow chickens happens to be one of them," Kahl said Monday. "By no means was this council singling out those in support of allowing chickens by not bringing it before council for a vote."
Mayor Dave Mingus and Commissioner Gary Densberger have stated their opposition to chickens in the city from the get-go. Commissioner Tim Jeffers has said he was willing to support the chicken ordinance. While expressing some early support, Commissioners Kahl and Dan Decker both said their reading of overall public sentiment convinced them that a preponderance of residents, given the choice, would rather not allow chickens than allow them.
"In all my discussions, I never heard one person tell me they were excited about having chickens in the city or that they thought it was a great idea," Decker said recently.
Kahl said he hoped that a vote would bring the discussion to an end.
"At the end of the day, I feel it is important to bring some resolution to such a proposal by allowing those in support or opposition to voice their opinions, take a vote by the council and move forward," Kahl said Monday.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.