Mary Beth Lynch had chickens in her Lombard yard more than 30 years ago, but hens won't be clucking on her property or the property of any other Lombard resident anytime soon.
The Lombard village board voted 5-1 Thursday night against changing an ordinance to allow residents to keep backyard chickens. Trustee Dana Moreau, who chairs the board's environmental concerns committee, cast the only supporting vote.
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Other trustees said they based their opposition on constituents' opinions.
"I got more calls on this one issue than any other in the past two years," Trustee Zachary Wilson said.
Wilson and trustees Bill Ware, Keith Giagnorio and Greg Gron said an overwhelming amount of the calls and e-mails they received voiced opposition to residential chickens.
Five residents including one member of the village board's environmental concerns committee, which began discussing chickens in October addressed the board directly at Thursday night's meeting.
Environmental concerns committee member Winnie Lyons said allowing chickens would set a dangerous precedent and may lead residents to ask permission to keep pigs or other farm animals in the future. She said chickens are not domesticated pets and should not be allowed in residential areas.
"Dogs bark for a reason. Chickens cluck because that's what they do," Lyons said.
Others who spoke listed concerns including chickens' smell and diseases, and the animals' potential to decrease property values and attract predators. Bob Ripper, who led a campaign of residents to contact their trustees, said there is simply too much downside to allowing chickens and not enough upside.
Those who saw the upside mentioned the health and educational value of fresh eggs.
"We need to really look at this as a sustainability issue," said Lonnie Morris, a Lombard resident who chairs an Illinois Sierra Club sustainability program called Cool Cities, which Lombard participates in. "Locally grown food is sustainable."
And while trustee Laura Fitzpatrick, alternate chairman of the environmental concerns committee, said the idea of keeping hens to produce homegrown eggs is a good one in theory, she said it doesn't work in practice. She noted other local communities that allow chickens, including Downers Grove and Naperville, have very few chicken owners.
"In practical application, it's not fitting in with the Lombard lifestyle," Fitzpatrick said.