Arlington Heights residents pushing backyard chickens

Some residents in Arlington Heights aren’t taking no for an answer on backyard chickens and are circulating a petition to gain support.

After Matt Scallon’s request for a henhouse was rejected by the village board in February, several other residents who are interested in housing chickens got together, hoping to get officials to change their minds.

Scallon and fellow resident Mary Green are working to get 200 signatures onto a petition. Their proposal is that the village allow five families in town to have backyard chickens for a three-year trial period.

Scallon said he also plans this fall to appeal the rejection of his henhouse.

In February, Trustees Mike Sidor and Carol Blackwood voted in favor of Scallon’s henhouse. Other trustees, however, were concerned about noise, odors, the potential to attract predators and even disease.

Jennifer Murtoff, an urban chicken consultant in Chicago, testified on Scallon’s behalf in February and spoke Monday at an educational meeting for about 60 interested residents at the Arlington Heights Library.

“I’ve seen very positive examples of chicken-keeping in suburban and urban settings,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to go out and gather eggs from your own backyard hens.

“People want to feel closer to their food supply now. It’s a growing trend.”

It’s mostly about learning, said Hank Zabowski, who has three young boys.

“From an educational standpoint, for them to see where food comes from and have a little more responsibility with their pets would be good,” Zabowski said.

He said his family already has snakes and lizards for pets, and he doesn’t see how chickens are that much more extraordinary.

“I didn’t even think about the fact that you’d need to have a permit; it’s a bird,” he said.

Zabowski said he plans to file a request for a variance in the next few weeks, though he expects it will be turned down as Scallon’s was in February.

“I understand some of the issues or concerns people have, but the village board can put some restrictions on it — about keeping it clean or fitting the aesthetics of the neighborhood,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want a dirty chicken coop in my neighborhood either. We all want our properties to look nice.”

Suburbs that allow backyard chickens include Batavia, Cary, Evanston, Lombard, Oak Park and Naperville.

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