Backyard farms: Proposed ordinance aims to regulate livestock in the city

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a backyard battle underway in Chicago, and it involves chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. Some families are fighting to keep their backyard farms, while others say they have no place in the city.

There's a home where the chickens roam and it's not out in the country, but in Austin on the West Side of Chicago.

The residential property is also known as Glennart Farm. They sell eggs the roaming chickens produce, goat milk from several of their goats, as well as provide goat yoga classes.

"That is actually what gives us our money to break even on our company is that we have goat yoga in the summer from May to August," said Carolyn Ioder, who runs Glennart Farms with her husband.

Ioder is concerned a proposed ordinance would make it hard to continue their business.

The new law, if passed, would allow a household to keep no more than six hens and two livestock animals, such as goats, sheep and pigs.

"We basically would not be able to continue," she said.

The proposed ordinance is co-sponsored by 15th-Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez and states that applicants would have to inform all neighbors within 500 feet of their plans. A permit would be rejected if a majority of neighboring residents object.

"What this ordinance does is start from a position that we allow animals, and then gives the opportunity to your surrounding neighbors and precinct to decide whether or not they want to have any restrictions on livestock," Ald. Lopez said.

Lopez said there have been few rules governing backyard animals. However, the proposal would allow for farms, like Glennart, to reclassify themselves as an urban farm and apply for the appropriate license.

"We will obey the law as it is called to be set up," Ioder said.

There is no timetable for the ordinance, but Ald. Lopez said the process is just getting started. He is expecting a lot more discussions with the community to find ways to best regulate backyard animals.
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