Celebrations at the end of January marked the beginning of the Year of the Rooster in Chinese culture. But in Kane County, 2017 will commemorate the end of roosters, as county leaders enacted a ban on them Tuesday on most unincorporated properties.
Enforcers of the county's nuisance laws began researching a ban in response to a growing number of complaints about noisy roosters.
Kane County, as well as Elgin, St. Charles and about 20 Chicago-area towns allow some level of chicken possession. But unlike those other communities, Kane County's laws also permitted roosters. Kane County residents living on at least 1 acre could keep roosters so long as the animals remain at least 100 feet from neighboring homes.
Every other nearby community allowing chickens bans roosters because of the disturbance their early morning crowing can cause.
The Kane County Farm Bureau, asked how to address cock-a-doodle-doo complaints, suggested a ban on roosters and their boisterous cousins -- peacocks and guinea fowl. County board members took a unanimous vote in support of the ban Tuesday.
The ban is immediate and applies to all property of less than 5 acres. Staff members said the 5-acre minimum arose because state law prevents the county's nuisance laws from applying to farmland larger than 5 acres.
Existing rooster owners who live on less than 5 acres have an avenue to maintaining their status quo. They can request a zoning exemption from the county board. If neighbors don't object to the roosters at a public hearing, the roosters would most likely receive a stamp of approval.
Mark Van Kerkhoff, the county's development director hinted such a process might be unnecessary. The county addresses animal nuisances only when made aware of the violation by a complaint.
"We're not generally driving around at 4 a.m. looking for roosters," Van Kerkhoff said.
The new ban does not affect the keeping of chickens. Chickens are still a permitted use in the county code.