Crystal Lake man resurrects quest to own hens

CRYSTAL LAKE – Erik Blome wants the chickens to come home to roost.

Two years after the Crystal Lake resident tried to change city code to allow homeowners to keep hens, Blome is ready to resurrect his efforts with a petition he plans to circulate during Crystal Lake’s Independence Day parade.

Just as he did the first time he lobbied for hens, Blome said allowing the farm animals would offer public health benefits by giving people the ability to control their own food sources and keep control with city officials, who could impose limitations as they see fit and create revenue through annual permits for hen ownership.

But Blome said he already has run into hurdles with the city as officials have told him there are no plans to put his request on an agenda because there is nothing new to the issue that was defeated.

“When does it become new again? How long do I have to wait? What are the rules?” Blome said. “It’s not a public health threat. Fast-food restaurants are a risk to public health. We live in a suburban hell where you have to buy everything through food sources not your own.”

Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said the issue has a “very slim” chance of becoming an agenda item in the near future. With only one new council member since the last vote, Shepley said, the vote still would be 5-2 against the proposal and possibly 6-1.

Shepley said Blome provided volumes of information in his initial proposal, and nothing of significance has changed in the two years.

“This is really a nonissue,” Shepley said. “I don’t know if he just has too much time on his hands.”

Blome said there is no reason the council should not consider it as a representative government body and added he believed the city was afraid of change because pets that are allowed, such as pitbulls and other potentially aggressive dogs, pose much more of a risk.

If hens made any difference in the community, Blome said, it would be a positive one, as it would add a cultural element and a sense of neighborhood, as most people who raise hens tend to share eggs with neighbors.

Blome said he only hopes the City Council will consider and discuss the issue, but admitted stall tactics could effectively end his crusade.

“The truth is, they could succeed by just ignoring it because I don’t have the time to keep fighting them,” Blome said. “But I am giving it a good citizen’s effort. If their vision of Crystal Lake is big-box stores, car dealers and fast-food restaurants and there is no room for chickens or hens, that’s fine. But discuss it.”

Blome said he plans to attend the July 2 City Council meeting.

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