City of Beloit could allow chickens as pets - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

City of Beloit could allow chickens as pets

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BELOIT (WREX) -

Cats and dogs are considered family pets, but some people in Beloit want chickens to have that same status.

"Especially during hard economic times, just to have some control over your own food. If you want to eat healthy, it costs you a lot more, but if you raise it yourself, you have more control over that," says Kurt Handrich, a member of the Beloit Backyard Chickens group.

The group wants to make chickens more than just the meal. After putting together petitions...And having several workshops with the City of Beloit, they're hopeful they'll reach a deal, to get chickens at home.

"In the past three years, 64 of the top 100 cities had chickens, and that went to 94," says Handrich. So it's really a growing movement and, we're just a part of that."

Now those in support of back yard chickens say the benefits are endless, including the supply of eggs that the chickens produce. Because free range chickens often have more room to roam and get fed a more nutritious diet, they produce better products for consumers.

But the City of Beloit isn't too sure the benefits outweigh the risks. Those include chickens getting loose, sanitary dangers, as well as the increased risk fire in the coops. Madison has allowed its residents to have chickens for the last eight years. Beloit city leaders reached out to administrators there, to see how their ordinance works.

"Sometimes the coops are in the wrong place or they have more animals than they should," says Beth Jacobson, the City of Beloit's assistant to the manager. "Or they've even found that people are having different types of birds. Ducks, pigeons, peacocks, pheasants, and quails."

Jacobson says another concern, is the image of the city.

"It's not us taking us a stance how we feel about it," she says. "It's more how will it affect property values? Is someone going to be less likely to buy a home if their neighbors have chicken coops?"

There's a public hearing on the ordinance Wednesday night at 7 at City Hall. A final decision isn't expected until September.

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