The movement to grow backyard chickens has caused controversy in many suburbs, so it should be no surprise that a proposal to house thousands of them just outside North Barrington's village limits is drawing resistance from the birds' prospective neighbors.
If approved, a plan calls for the cluckers to be used for egg production on a large-scale poultry farm at the southwest corner of Scott Road and Route 59. The site is a little more than 5 acres and has an agricultural zoning classification, which may make it hard to derail the plan.
Eric Waggoner, director of the Lake County planning, building and development department, said a couple hundred chickens already are living on the unincorporated property, on the edge of North Barrington and a mile north of Barrington.
Waggoner said the agricultural zoning means the chickens comply with Lake County regulations. He said the number of birds is expected to gradually and significantly grow if the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and state agriculture department approve permits for the poultry farm.
"At some point, they could potentially have thousands of chickens on their property," Waggoner said.
Anoosh Varda, who owns the land with his wife, said an outside company would operate the farm strictly for egg production. While some residents living near the site have publicly voiced opposition, Varda said he believes they'll like the end result after three barns are completed.
"We're in compliance with Lake County and we're doing our best with construction," Varda said. "Once we're finished, everything will look much nicer than the neighbors are expecting. But we still have a few more months to go."
The opponents approached the North Barrington village board at a recent meeting and the elected officials passed a resolution to cooperate in the chicken fight. North Barrington officials said they agreed to join in because the land is within 1½ miles of the village, but it's unclear what they could do.
Odor, noise and environmental concerns were raised by the opponents about the few hundred chickens on the land now and the thousands more that might soon arrive.
Kevin Johnson, who lives in unincorporated Lake County on North Barrington's border, said he first noticed the chickens a few months ago. He contends the animals don't belong in a residential area and the situation would worsen in a large-scale chicken farm.
"The odor is terrible, depending upon the wind and the weather," Johnson said.
Another opponent living on North Barrington's border, Gerald Celano, also complained about chicken odor and the proposal for thousands of the animals at the site. He said he has five horses but contends they don't cause a stench in the neighborhood.
"This is, if nothing else, a nuisance," Celano said.
Waggoner said state law opens the door to the proposed chicken operation. He said sites greater than 5 acres in unincorporated areas are exempt from local zoning and building codes if used for verified agricultural purposes.
Building permits were issued by the county for an approximately 12,000-square-foot pole barn and two smaller structures for the intended egg production, Waggoner said.
He said the buildings under construction meet setback regulations and grading requirements.