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Chicken Coops Coming to Plainfield?

Trustees were receptive to the idea at the Aug. 13 Committee of the Whole meeting.

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.”

Moving forward

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.

What do you think? Take our poll and sound off in the comments.

stephanie August 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I hope this passes and that Romeoville follows suit!
Shannon Antinori (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
The 100-feet rule is part of the current ordinance; the proposed change would allow backyard chicken coops within 30 feet of nearby homes.
Genie616 August 14, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Thank you for taking the time to right this article and giving a voice to individuals who are passionate about raising chickens on a backyard scale in the Village of Plainfield. This new ordinance will benefit our entire community because I trust that our Village board will take time and effort to write up a solid ordinance that will protect individuals who want to own chickens and those individuals who do not. Thank you for finally seeing this issue from both sides of the discussion. I look forward to this passing and ending the lack of education on this matter.
Zach August 14, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Yes, please put chickens in every backyard so they can drive the number of dogs barking from painfully high to just completely insane just so people can have fresh eggs. If you want to live an agrarian lifestyle, move to rural America!
Susan Osborne August 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I have not known too many dogs that bark at birds. They tend to bark at cats that roam from yard to yard mostly. Backyard chickens are confined to their own yards and the dog that would bark at a bird in his neighbor's yard would bark at the person who lives in that yard also making the dog the problem. Hen's aren't noisey, and don't bother their neighbors as dogs and cats do
Miguel Sanchez August 14, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I desperately want to give the picture above "five".
Baba O'Riley August 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Let me tell you how out of tune some Plainfield transplants are on chickens. A while back I was purchasing some eggs at a small farm west of town. A woman asked me what I was going to do with the eggs. I was puzzled for a second but replied that I was going to eat them. She looked at me and said, you cant eat those eggs if those chickens didnt have their shots. She was dead serious. I told her that chickens do not need shots. She argued the point and said Its been nice to know ya. That is the kind of shortsight this anti crowd has. Shots? Really? Maybe for factory birds(and they dont get shots either) but not barnyard birds. So all the paranoid delerium about howling dogs, rampant disease and the mass hysteria that a few hens will cause is nothing more than hot air from some uninformed blowhards that should have stayed in their northern suburb.
RB August 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Great! So now we will live in a community that has a bankrupt school district, night shootings, drug deals and backyard chicken. What else can be done to destroy property value in this place?
Bruce M August 14, 2012 at 08:46 PM
The regulations would have to be completely idiot-proof. Is that possible? Chickens WILL get loose, dogs WILL bark, people WILL NOT keep the coops clean, neighbors WILL be complaining, other wildlife WILL be attracted into neighborhoods- such as coyotes, racoons, opposums, etc. even more than currently. Trustees cannot expect everyone will maintain thier coops and chickens as the perfect examples they visit.
MelloYello August 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Another apartment complex? Check.
J.D August 14, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Its nice to hear that Plainfield is moving toward sustainability and allowing some freedoms to their residents. However, Plainfield is mostly run by HOA and many run their subdivision as if they were living in Stepford- Everyone look and act the same...or else. Many residents wishing to leave the throat gripping hold if their HOA can not because of loss in home value. So, as nice as it would be to see families adopting a few chickens..I'm afraid it will be very few. It is comical to hear the ignorance in people about chickens....you should only be so lucky to have a neighbor who could supply you and your family with fresh, healthy, organic eggs.
RB August 14, 2012 at 09:12 PM
If I wanted chciken running around my backyard I would live in a farm. If I wanted somebody else's chicken running around my backyard I would live in somebody else's farm. I never thought I would be thankful for a HOA but now I see the value it has!
Kevin S August 14, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Exactly! Well said.
Bruce M August 14, 2012 at 09:26 PM
With all the neighborhood associations, I would assume chickens may still be restricted.
Miguel Sanchez August 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I think I'll buy a falcon on the way home.
Jerry August 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Thank God that even though I have a Plainfield mailing address, I really live in Joliet. They don't tolerate such things here.
Brandon Andreasen August 15, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Man, between the drug dealing and the chickens....what next, drug dealing chickens? Then we are ALL in trouble. Nobody every expects the drug dealing chicken. Bunch of angry, young chickens, dealing drugs, angering the neighbor's dogs.
oldschool August 15, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Thank you for making a "pro chicken" point. Although I realize you were trying to make chickens look bad, you have only pointed out that chickens are quiet and produce something that is edible. On the other hand dogs are noisy and produce..........
Concerned (NL) August 15, 2012 at 05:21 AM
I prefer chickens over pitbulls.
Zach August 15, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Dogs won't bark at chickens?!?! I just now witnessed a dog barking at its own shadow. I have seen dogs bark at trees hours after a squirrel last appeared. And chicken coops smell in the summer. No matter how diligent my in-laws are (they live in rural Illinois next to a farm), their chicken coop SOMETIMES smells terrible. The beauty there is that the coop is 100 feet from their house. And they have dogs. Those dogs bother the chickens. A lot.
Plainfield Resident August 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Couldn't have said it any better! Hear Hear!!!
Plainfield Resident August 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM
So true - I'm w/ you!
LMS August 15, 2012 at 03:57 PM
This is an excellent argument for introducing an ordinance banning dogs as backyard pets in non-rural areas or small yards. I would be so happy if the dog noise, dog excrement, and constantly-running-loose doge were removed from my neighborhood! Most of our yards are too small for any of my neighbors to get chicken-raising permits, but they sure do cram plenty of dogs into their homes and yards! I'm not saying the backyard chicken movement is without drawbacks, but anyone who thinks the noise, stink, annoyance, and potential dangers of the dog breeds allowed in our neighborhoods is okay should think hard before definitively vetoing the idea of backyard chickens. I love the idea, but won't argue too hard and loud since it isn't even an issue in my neighborhood.
MidwestGal August 15, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Yes, Joliet only tolerates gangs, the lowest test scores around and thugs. It's about time someone took pride in Jolie. Although, I bet 99% of the time when people ask you where you live you respond Plainfield.
Baba O'Riley August 15, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Does everyone really think that the entire village population will go out and get chickens? What would the actual percentage be? Twenty maybe? Chickens running around your backyard? Get a grip RB. I never thought I'd see so many people afraid of a few chickens. What are ya "chicken"? Just hide in your vinyl castle and your giant suv and dont come out until night because the terror chickens will have gone to roost by then (if that term confuses you, read a bit about chickens as you could use it). That is unless your afraid of the dark also.
Jerry August 15, 2012 at 08:11 PM
LOL...I knew this would get a response from you MidwestGal! Just a little humor, my friend. And by the way, you'd lose that bet. I always respond Joliet because people are just generally more familiar with where that is and don't associate it with the Klan and tornadoes.
J.D August 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You bring up another interesting point about hiding in castles ....As it is,no one is ever outside anyways. I can look down my street at any given time and not see anyone- just people pulling in and out of their garages. Even on the nicest of days, everyone is in their homes with the doors and windows shut and the air conditioning blasting-never do I see windows opened. So I'm not sure what the problem is about having chickens- no one is out to see, hear, or smell them.
MidwestGal August 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM
;-) Ah yes the famous "you live in tornado alley?!?" response, as if they spin thru daily. Now instead of cows being swept up like in the movie Twister, it'll be chickens and eggs.
Baba O'Riley August 16, 2012 at 08:10 PM
JD. You are absolutely right. I see the same thing. I think the next door neighbors are vampires. As for the chickens I'm looking into getting "hengalis". This rare breed of laying hen can also hyptonize unsuspecting victims rendering them to a helpless zombie like state. Of course you'll never know the difference around here anyway. Speed, brake, text, speed, brake, text...close garage door and hide in house. By the way, they lay an egg a day also.

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