A proposal to allow backyard chickens in Lombard gained more restrictions Tuesday night.
The village board's environmental concerns committee passed a motion recommending the village board allow the keeping of chickens as long as licenses are required, roosters are prohibited, the number of chickens is kept at or below four, and the possible locations of chicken coops within residential yards are restricted.
"From an environmental standpoint, this is a step in the right direction," said Jason Cooper, environmental concerns committee member. "I see the local food movement that is starting to take on some steam here as important."
While the environmental concerns committee stayed true to its focus on sustainability, recommending chickens be allowed for those who want to produce their own eggs, village staff members who conducted research on backyard chickens were reluctant to support the idea, said Christopher Stilling, assistant director of community development.
"We have expressed a concern about allowing chickens on residential lots," Stilling said. "There have been numerous code enforcement issues in the past involving chickens. ... Staff is also concerned about chickens escaping the coop."
Public opinion about backyard chickens seems divided, Lombard Trustee Dana Moreau said, based on e-mails she has received from residents. The group of about 10 residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting also represented widely varied opinions.
Moreau said she has heard most opposition based on fears that chickens will attract more predatory animals such as coyotes and foxes. But residents who spoke also mentioned noise and unpleasant smells chickens could cause.
"On a 75-degree day with humidity, you smell them. Then there's always the health and sanitary thing," said Lombard resident Bob Ripper, who is leading a group opposed to backyard chickens. "We strongly feel that there's a considerable downside to this."
Emily Prasad, who spoke on behalf of Citizens of Lombard for Urban Chickens, or CLUC, tried to quell concerns that residents may start home-based businesses selling eggs, or allow their chickens to escape their coops.
"We're looking for pets and some backyard eggs for home use," Prasad said, adding that allowing chickens gives Lombard a chance to act as a forward-thinking village. "We're talking a modern urban model here, not a 1930s dust bowl picture."
The environmental concerns committee's recommendation decreased the number of chickens that may be allowed from eight to four and put more emphasis on licensing and village oversight of possible chicken owners.
While the recommendation means the backyard chickens idea still is alive and clucking, Stilling and Moreau stressed it does not mean Lombard residents can start shopping for poultry pets.
"At this point in time, current code says you cannot have chickens in Lombard," Stilling said.
And for that to change, the village board and the plan commission both would have to pass an amendment to the ordinance within the village code that prohibits the keeping of certain animals.
The Lombard village board meets next Dec. 2.
Clucking: Some residents feel hens will attract coyotes, foxes