Batavia is joining the debate on whether suburbanites should be able to raise chickens in their backyards.
Proponents will present a request Tuesday to the city council's Community Development Committee allowing residents to keep as many as eight hens in enclosed coops and runs.
The committee meets at 7:30 p.m. in the city council chamber at the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave.
Resident Betsy Zinser submitted the request after she and fellow resident Jen Warta conducted a study that included interviews with people already keeping chickens in town and their neighbors. They also included a survey on the topic by DePaul University's "Green Urban Policy" class.
The request suggests several rules, including that only hens be allowed, that they be kept in enclosures located at least 20 feet from lot lines, that no more than eight hens be allowed per lot and a ban on slaughtering.
Batavia's current law, enacted in 1991, prohibits keeping chickens within 200 feet of any building used as a residence, except that of the owner, or within 200 feet of any city street or alley.
Proponents say eggs from backyard chickens are better quality than those from chicken farms, that their droppings can be composted into gardens, that children can learn responsibility by taking care of the chickens and that producing food close to home is good for the environment.
The backyard chicken movement has gained steam in recent years, including an article this spring in Martha Stewart Living magazine and a segment on the "Martha Stewart Living" television show.