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updated: 8/7/2012 10:53 AM

Chickens meet resistance in Palatine

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Add Palatine to the list of suburbs unfriendly to raising chickens in the backyard.

Officially the village council Monday tabled a request from Vanessa and Jason Barsanti to build and stock a coop after a neighbor objected to the small flock. But Kollin Kozlowski of District 5 was the only council member who voted in favor of the egg layers as pets.

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The Barsantis, who live on a 20,000-square-foot lot on the 500 block of West Daniels Road, have been working on the project since December. After the vote, village officials instructed them to see if an agreement could be reached with Ann Harrison, the neighbor who objected at the council meeting.

The zoning board of appeals last month unanimously approved the Barsantis' request, which was accompanied by letters of support from 14 neighbors.

However, Harrison, whose backyard touches Barsantis', objected at Monday's meeting. Another neighbor farther away sent an email against the hens without stating reasons, and Jim Clegg, who represents District 3, said he had heard from yet another neighbor.

Harrison, who lives on the 300 block of South Elm Street, expressed fear that chickens would draw predators that could endanger her four children and the many more who live in the neighborhood.

And she said the coop could hurt the value of the home she and her husband built 10 years ago and believe is worth more than $500,000.

"My large windows overlook that backyard," she said. "We have a screened porch and are on a hill. Our house is higher than theirs and overlooks Vanessa and Jason's yard."

Jason Barsanti said after the meeting that he and his wife would not be interested in doing anything they thought would hurt property values in their neighborhood.

His wife told the council predators hunt at night, and the only increase in predators reported in Evanston in the first year that chickens were legal was two hawks. She said that town has fewer than 10 homeowners raising hens.

Clegg countered that he has seen a coyote kill a goose in Palatine in the daytime.

Responding to council members' concerns about setting a precedent, Village Manager Reid Ottesen said only 5.5 percent of the residential lots in Palatine are 20,000 or more square feet. The large size is necessary to meet restrictions the village staff recommended if the council approved the birds. These include keeping the coop 20 feet from the lot line and 40 feet from a neighbor's home. Only hens and no roosters would be allowed.

Vanessa Barsanti spearheaded the project as a gift to her husband.

"I have always wanted chickens," said Jason Barsanti, "being close to our food source and knowing where it comes from. I enjoy gardening, and we do eat a lot of eggs."

Vanessa Barsanti told the council: "You're thinking of a farmer with an old dilapidated coop and 20 chickens running around. We're not talking about that. We're thinking of painting it the same color as our house. It will not be an eyesore."

Communities that allow chickens include Batavia, Cary, Lombard, Naperville, St. Charles and Warrenville.

Arlington Heights, Geneva and Mundelein turned them down this year.

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