Chickens cause flap between South Pekin woman, village board

·3 min read

A South Pekin woman may lose her permit to keep chickens after the city says she kept more birds on her property than a village ordinance allows. But Beth Gilmore said that the extra chickens had been hatched over the winter, and she was in the process of selling them when the city confiscated them last month.

“(The chickens) were going to a new home on (March 22),” Gilmore said. “(The village of South Pekin) contacted me March 15. They gave me a ticket for an ordinance violation and said, 'Remove them from the property immediately.'”

Four-month-old Shadow perches on owner Beth Gilmore's shoulder outside the chicken coop Gilmore keeps at her house in South Pekin. Shadow is one of 19 chickens Gilmore was raising and selling until her property was raided by local authorities.
Four-month-old Shadow perches on owner Beth Gilmore's shoulder outside the chicken coop Gilmore keeps at her house in South Pekin. Shadow is one of 19 chickens Gilmore was raising and selling until her property was raided by local authorities.

Village of South Pekin Ordinance 486 requires residents wishing to keep chickens on their property to acquire permits through the village and limits them to no more than four hens. Roosters are not permitted on residential property.

Gilmore acknowledged that, in addition to her own four hens, there were 14 young birds on the property, including two roosters. However, she also maintained that she had notified the village that she had found homes for the extra birds, and believes village officials could have handled the confiscation of the chickens better.

“I had gone out of town due to business and I posted that on Facebook,” Gilmore recalled. “My oldest daughter was here and was taking care of the chickens ... and (South Pekin police officers) told her they were there to get the roosters. Later, Tazewell County Animal Control showed up with a bunch of dog crates.”

Beth Gilmore's remaining chickens stand on a hay bale in their coop on her property in South Pekin.
Beth Gilmore's remaining chickens stand on a hay bale in their coop on her property in South Pekin.

Animal Control workers proceeded to round up all the chickens on the property, including her own hens, using sticks and rakes, according to Gilmore. While four hens were returned to her, Gilmore said that only one of them was hers. Additionally, she claimed, workers broke her coops and the gate on her pen.

South Pekin Village President Eric Stout noted that Gilmore had been cited for keeping too many chickens on her property last August and had been fined $100. The South Pekin Village Board will hold a hearing Monday on Gilmore’s case, and Stout expects that her permit to keep chickens will be revoked at that time.

"She's a multiple offender, and we don't want to have one bad apple spoil the whole bunch, so to speak,” Stout said. “So, we're going to likely revoke her permit and go from there. We've had two people basically that were problems and we don't want to punish everybody for two people. But, the ordinance is so cut and dried that you really can't argue it.”

Beth Gilmore rakes up around a door that she says was broken when authorities raided her chicken coop on her property in South Pekin. Gilmore says the coop was damaged and her chickens abused and traumatized in the incident.
Beth Gilmore rakes up around a door that she says was broken when authorities raided her chicken coop on her property in South Pekin. Gilmore says the coop was damaged and her chickens abused and traumatized in the incident.

Gilmore said she is currently seeking legal representation and will petition to get her chickens back with the hope that the buyer for the birds hatched over the winter will still be interested in purchasing them.

“I'm also going to petition to reevaluate the ordinance to see about having 10 chickens per household and one rooster,” she added. “No one I spoke with in town had a problem. I did not do this without asking my neighbors and people in town to see if it was going to be a bothersome issue.”

This article originally appeared on Pekin Daily Times: Chickens causing flap between South Pekin woman, village board