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Article updated: 1/21/2013 11:56 PM

Palatine man gets his chickens, but that's all for now

By Kimberly Pohl

A Palatine man hoping to raise backyard chickens got his wish Monday night, but officials are keeping the coop door shut elsewhere in the village -- for now, at least.

Steve Brosio will be allowed to house up to six hens as part of a hobby he's quietly kept up on the 600 block of West Hill Road without much notice over the past decade.

The difference between Brosio's specific request and a November proposal that would change Palatine's ordinance to allow chickens in certain circumstances was his 1.8-acre property, officials said.

"I don't think (chicken coops) have any business in an urban setting ... but this is different than all our other neighborhoods," Councilman Greg Solberg said.

Brosio, who constructed a predator-proof coop from recycled materials and allows the chickens to roam in his garden and a fenced pen, didn't know raising chickens broke any of Cook County's rules. He continued after his property's 2005 annexation into Palatine and then stopped for a brief time due to the demands of his job.

When Brosio picked up the hobby again last April, a complaint prompted a village inspection and an order to either stop or seek special approval from the council.

Although a petition opposing Brosio's request was submitted with 19 signatures representing 11 properties, only one of them was a close neighbor's. Several people attending the council meeting offered support.

"I really hope that we can see beyond the fears and look at the evidence," Gina Andaas said. "I'd like us to look toward a more sustainable Palatine, and that's really what Steve is trying to do."

Brosio agreed to keep just six hens, down from his original proposal of 15 so that some would always be at an egg-laying age.

He also consented to the village's condition that officials will review the setup in six months.

"If it's a problem, we dismantle the project," he said. "Give it some time and see how it pans out."

In November, Vanessa and Jason Barsanti's proposal to set up a backyard chicken coop was voted down despite the couple's positive research and an absence of concerns from the village staff. The new ordinance would have permitted coops on lots with at least 20,000 square feet, or just under a half acre.

Village Manager Reid Ottesen estimated that no more than 2 percent of residential properties in Palatine are bigger than an acre.

"Anybody who comes forward from this point on, this is our new benchmark for conditions," he said. "But even 1-acre properties are few and far between."

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