ELBURN – The Elburn Plan Commission on Sept. 13 voted to recommend a change to village ordinances that would allow residents to raise backyard chickens. The recommendation, which will now go before the Village Board, includes a one-year probationary period to determine whether it should become permanent.
The ordinance, based on a St. Charles ordinance regulating raising chickens, will include a number of restrictions.
The St. Charles ordinance prohibits roosters, limits the number of chickens to six, requires that chickens be kept in an enclosure and/or fenced area in the rear yard and includes appropriate hygiene standards and other requirements.
The new ordinance would not apply to subdivisions, such as Blackberry Creek, in which the homeowners associations’ covenants would take precedence.
The consideration by the village of an ordinance allowing backyard chickens within the village limits began with a request from an Elburn family earlier this year. Paul Christiansen and his daughters first approached the village about the topic during a Village Board meeting in March. Christiansen, who grew up on a farm, thought it would be an educational activity for his children, as well as providing healthy eggs and nitrogen fertilizer for their garden.
A village ordinance prohibiting residents from keeping chickens or other livestock within the village limits was in place at the time.
Interest in backyard chickens has increased during the past few years in a number of communities, leading to the creation of ordinances to regulate the activity.
Most village officials have been agreeable about the possibility, as long as there were rules.
“I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives,” Plan Commission Chair Jeff Metcalf said early on. “I have no issue with it, provided it’s controlled.”
Commissioner Rob Houtz said on Sept. 13 that in his informal canvass of residents, he only found one individual who was not for it.
“As long as they’re not running around spreading diseases, have at it,” he said.
But not all village officials are enthusiastic.
Commissioner Chris Gould, who farms hogs for a living, has raised objections to having livestock of any kind within village limits. His concerns included the possibility of chickens creating problems with insects and rodents, and between neighbors.
Although Gould was not present at the meeting where the vote took place, he sent along his recommendations for consideration in the final ordinance, including a requirement that owners follow basic health protocols, such as worming and vaccinations, and have plans for manure and mortality management.
The matter will go before the board for its final vote at an upcoming Village Board meeting.
For individuals interested in raising backyard chickens, the Town and Country Public Library is offering a two-hour session Oct. 14.
For information, please visit the library’s website at www.elburn.lib.il.us.