Don't be a chicken, Rock Island City Council: let urban chickens roost in peace

Why did the chicken cross the road from Rock Island to Moline? To get to the other side, where it can roost in peace. There, chickens are welcomed with open arms by the city: over the summer, the Moline City Council adopted an ordinance that permits residents to house up to six hens in their backyard.
But here, in Rock Island, you can’t board fowl without running the risk of running afowl of the law. (Sorry.) I say “running the risk” because the ordinances currently on the books are unclear as to whether harboring hens violates the law. As Rock Island city attorney David Morrison told The Dispatch, “it’s probably subject to interpretation. There’s nothing specifically that says you cannot have chickens in the city.”
So, too, is there nothing specifically that says you can have chickens in the city. And that’s what needs to change. Being able to own a small and harmless domesticated farm animal is a matter not only of individual liberty, but of food sustainability. If I can grow fresh fruit and vegetables in my backyard, why can’t I harvest fresh eggs in my backyard?
I’ll tell you why: because a few members on City Council are holding up a pro-urban chicken ordinance amendment out of ignorance. On Aug. 22, the Council actually voted 4-3 in favor of the measure, which would have allowed residents to house up to six hens on residential property, but fell short one vote short of the supermajority needed to pass it.
“I do not believe our city is progressing by bringing chickens in,” said Alderman Virgil Mayberry, one of the three who voted in opposition. “You do not see well-to-do communities with chickens there”. Actually, you do. In San Francisco—home of some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods in the country—residents are free to own fowl. But you don’t need to look that far: both Madison and Ann Arbor—two gems of the Midwest—both have reversed their poultry bans in recent years.
“Do we want Rock Island to be a poor community, or do we want it to be a well-to-do, wealthy community?” continued Alderman Mayberry. (I find nothing wrong with being a middle-class community, but many politicians like to think in extremes.) “We’ve got people on our staff trying to sell this community.”
The notion that these innocuous creatures somehow drive away residents is baseless. I, for one, would be drawn to a city that respects the rights of its residents to practice food sustainability on their own property.
By dragging its feet on the issue, Rock Island is lagging behind not only the growing number of cities that are progressing on this latest front of food sustainability, but also the other cities on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities (Moline, East Moline, and Silvis), all of which have hatched well-regulated policies and practices in the interest of their citizens, who now enjoy access to a self-sustaining source of protein.
Don’t brood over broods, Rock Island City Council. (A brood is a group of hens. Again, I apologize for the poultry pun.)