residents could soon be enjoying farm-fresh eggs right from their own backyards.
Using regulations set by other Illinois communities as a guideline, trustees on Monday agreed to move forward with a propsal to permit Plainfield residents to raise chickens. The board directed staff to draft an ordinance that would allow the practice.
Planner Jonathan Proulx said the discussion came out of enforcement efforts in the village, which currently does not allow residents to keep fowl in lots of less than five acres. Current ordinance also states that chicken coops must be set back no less than 100 feet from adjacent homes.
But “backyard chickens” are becoming more mainstream, according to Proulx.
“This has been something of a hot topic or a trend not just in the Chicago area, but nationwide,” Proulx said.
On Monday, trustees reviewed ordinances from Batavia and Kaneville, just two Illinois towns that allow backyard chicken coops.
Trustee Bill Lamb said reading the sample ordinances helped sway him in favor of allowing residents to keep chickens for the purpose of producing eggs.
“I think they incorporate some things which I think make a lot of sense,” he said, such as clearly defining how far coops must be from neighboring homes and requiring owners to provide a place for the chickens to run around.
Trustees also liked provisions requiring anyone who wants to keep chickens to build a covered inside enclosure, plus an adjacent outside fenced area. According to the ordinance set by Kaneville, the enclosure and outside area would have to be at least 30 feet from any nearby home.
Anyone wanting to build a chicken coop would also have to apply for a building permit and pay any associated fees.
“The village would not have to shell out at all for this,” said trustee Jim Racich, who first at a June village board meeting.
Lamb said the regulations would ensure that the number of Plainfield residents keeping chicken coops would stay fairly low.
“It’s not inexpensive,” he said. “It’s a lot of trouble to go to it … I think with enough checks and balances, I would remove my objection to having chickens in town.”
Enforcement, health issues top list of concerns
While the board were generally receptive to the idea of allowing chickens, trustee Paul Fay said he has concerns regarding potential health issues and ordinance enforcement.
“Chickens carry an awful lot of diseases,” he said, citing data stating that an individual chicken produces about 45 pounds of waste per year.
But Lamb, noting that he has visited poultry plants in the past as part of his work, said health issues are largely contained to facilities where animals are slaughtered. Residents would not be permitted to slaughter chickens under the proposed ordinance.
Trustee Dan Rippy echoed Fay’s concern regarding potential health issues, but said he is generally in favor of allowing chicken coops, noting that current village ordinance permits residents to keep miniature pigs.
Fellow trustee Garrett Peck said he is also willing to move forward with the proposal, but had questions about how much of a burden chicken coops would place on the village’s code enforcement officer.
According to Chief John Konopek, the permit process could help code enforcement staff keep track of who has chicken coops.
Under a proposed ordinance, anyone who gets three complaints would be required to get rid of their chickens.
“If it is a legitimate concern, then we’ll work with the homeowner to rectify the situation,” he said. “Unfortunately, sometimes we do have people who simply don’t like their neighbors who will call with false complaints.”
Trustees discussed setting a maximum of eight, rather than the previously discussed 10, chickens per household. Any Plainfield chicken ordinance would also limit residents to keeping hens only — no roosters.
Trustee Margie Bonuchi said she is open to the idea of allowing chicken coops, but would like to hear what residents have to say before the issue comes to a vote.
“I would like more feedback from the community itself,” she said.
Racich, who in June asked residents to contact him with their thoughts and concerns on the chicken issue, said he received more than 50 emails.
“I only received three negative emails,” he said. “One person said I’m going to be personally responsible for bringing the Bubonic plague to Plainfield.”
Racich said he visited Plainfield resident Doug Soika’s home to view his chicken coop and found it clean and well maintained.
“It’s a tri-level coop, it matches the house,” Racich said. “It’s healthy. It’s not something that’s going to harm the Village of Plainfield,” he added, citing other towns that allow the practice, including Evanston, Naperville, Oak Park and the City of Chicago.
Trustees directed staff to draft an ordinance outlining regulations for keeping chicken coops in Plainfield. From there, the ordinance will be placed on an upcoming village board meeting agenda for a vote.
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