A test program to allow a limited number of Libertyville families to keep hens in their backyards didn't fly with village officials, who said they appreciated the extensive discussion but couldn't support the idea.
Noting potential concerns including noise, property values and predators, the village board on Tuesday nixed the idea by declining to direct the village staff to proceed with the paperwork that would have created a 2-year pilot program.
"If we open the door to this, here comes the person with a goat. They want goat's milk," Trustee Todd Gaines said. "There's a lot of good arguments for having chickens, but we're residential."
Gaines said there are "too many" quarter-acre lots in town and that protecting property values was a key consideration.
As suggested by Trustee Jim Moran, the program would have allowed five households living on a minimum of a quarter acre lot to have up to three hens each, for a total of 15 hens. The program would have been reviewed and adjusted every six months.
Moran said he visited two coops, including one near Mundelein that had 12 chickens.
"I was actually amazed. I walked right up to the chicken coop (and) there was no smell and very little noise," he said.
Moran added that he couldn't find any evidence to suggest property values would be affected and said properly constructed coops would eliminate any issues with potential predators or the spread of disease.
But in a discussion that included pro and con comments from six audience members, the prevailing sentiment in a 4-1 vote -- with only Moran in favor -- was not to give it a try.
"Backyard chickens are not in the character of the community we live in and I will not support it," Trustee Jay Justice said.
Village code allows chickens on residential properties of 5 acres or more with a maximum of one home. After being asked by several residents if that could be changed, Mayor Terry Weppler referred the matter to the board's special projects committee for consideration and a recommendation.
There, Gaines and Justice voted against the idea, while Moran, the committee chairman, supported it.
Trustee Rich Moras said his brother raises chickens and that everyone has a neighbor with a "yappy" dog that makes more noise. He said he wasn't "dead set against" the pilot but was considering a broader audience.
"I've gotten a lot of responses from the community on this one that have been overwhelmingly against it," he said.
Libertyville resident Sean Gay contended that keeping chickens to some extent was a property rights issue.
"I think we should give it a shot and see what happens," he said.
He was joined in support by Palatine resident Gina Andaas, a registered nurse who said she and her husband, an electrical engineer, are considering moving but would only go to a community that allows hen-keeping.
"I would think you'd like to attract people who are concerned about sustainable living," she told the board.
Libertyville resident Joe Russo said he saw two coyotes before the meeting and feared chickens would attract predators.
"It's a farm animal. I don't think we're a farming community on quarter-acre lots," he said.
Weppler, who votes only to break a tie, said he had "serious concerns" about chickens in the community.
"I'm not in favor of a pilot program because I'm not in favor of opening it up period," he said.
Moran took the defeat in stride.
"I get excited when I see the community get involved in our government," he said.