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updated: 7/20/2012 4:03 PM

Chicken coops, beehives being considered in Mundelein

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  • Mundelein officials will debate whether residents should be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards.

      Mundelein officials will debate whether residents should be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards.
    BRIAN HILL/Daily Herald File Photo

  • Honeybees, like these in an Arlington Heights hive, could be permitted in colonies in Mundelein.

       Honeybees, like these in an Arlington Heights hive, could be permitted in colonies in Mundelein.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Why keep bees?

  • Video: Raising backyard chickens

 
 

Mundelein residents would be able to keep chickens and bees at their homes under a proposal being considered by the village board Monday.

New rules would allow people to keep up to six bee colonies in their backyards in special hives. It also would allow people to keep up to five chickens in backyard coops.

The regulations have been included in a revised, comprehensive zoning ordinance that village staffers have been developing for years, Planning and Development Director Victor Barrera said. Chicken coops and beehives aren't specifically allowed under the town's current zoning rules, he said.

Barrera believes chickens and bees should be allowed "in certain environments." But he also sees how some neighbors could consider them nuisances.

"There will be a healthy debate about it," Barrera said of Monday's meeting at 7 p.m. at the town's main fire station.

Raising chickens and amateur beekeeping have become more popular in recent years. They're seen as environmentally friendly hobbies that connect Americans with the nation's agrarian past and provide fresher, locally grown produce.

"People who want pure, local honey can have their own honey," said Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, owner of Buglady Consulting, a national horticultural and entomological consulting firm.

Keeping bees or chickens have other benefits, Wainwright-Evans said. Chickens can be used to control ticks and Japanese beetles, she said, and bees can improve home gardening efforts.

"(People) want the bees for higher pollination and higher produce yields," said Wainwright-Evans, who keeps bees at her Pennsylvania home.

Under Mundelein's proposed regulations, honeybee colonies would be allowed in special, man-made hives with removable frames.

They'd only be allowed in backyards and would have to be at least 10 feet from any property line.

If a hive is within 25 feet of a property line, a barrier of dense vegetation, a wall or a fence would have to be built at least 6 feet high to force bees to fly higher.

Additionally, a convenient source of water must be available to the bees at all times.

Colonies must also have marked queens, and the queens must be European honeybees bred especially for gentleness and "non-swarming characteristics," the proposal says.

Properties that are less than 10,000 square feet would be allowed to have two bee colonies. Properties up to 20,000 square feet would be allowed to have four colonies.

Larger properties could have six bee colonies.

The proposed rules for chickens are similarly specific.

People would be allowed to have up to five chickens at one time, regardless of lot size. Roosters would be prohibited.

If the gender of a newly hatched chick can't be determined, a chick of either gender can be kept for no more than six months, the proposed regulations state.

Chicken coops and runs would be limited to 32 square feet. They must be 7 feet tall or shorter.

Rear-yard fencing would be required to prevent access by other people. Additionally, chickens must be kept in coops from dusk until dawn.

According to the proposal, chickens could only be kept for personal use. Selling eggs or meat, breeding chickens or producing fertilizer for commercial purposes would be forbidden, as would the slaughtering of chickens at the home.

Because of the potential for controversy, trustees may opt to remove the bee and chicken rules to allow the zoning ordinance to pass smoothly, Barrera said. If the board pulls the regulations, they'd likely be considered in the future, he said.

Naperville, St. Charles, Batavia and Chicago are among the communities with similar regulations for chickens raised at home.

As for bees, a community apiary opened in Hanover Park last year at a former sewage treatment plant. Elk Grove Village, Palatine, Arlington Heights and Chicago are among the towns allowing beekeeping at home.

Beekeeping is banned in some towns, including Barrington and Streamwood.

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