No backyard chickens in Arlington Heights
Arlington Heights officially closed the coop Tuesday night, voting against allowing backyard chickens in the village for the second time in a year.
The village board denied variance requests from two residents who wanted to keep up to three hens in their backyards, and asked that these rejections be considered a policy decision against allowing backyard chickens in Arlington Heights.
Mary Green, of the 200 block of South Mitchell, and Matt Scallon, of the 400 block of South Walnut, were both requesting a variance to the municipal code that prohibits chickens, among other unusual pets. The code is fairly vague and allows residents to request a variance an unlimited number of times.
Last February, the board rejected a similar request from Scallon by a 7-2 vote, with only trustees Mike Sidor and Carol Blackwood supporting the measure. Other trustees were concerned about noise, odors, disease and the potential of chickens to attract unwanted predators.
Several trustees weren't happy to be discussing the matter again.
“Having repetitive discussion of the same subject is not a good use of the board's or the public's time,” said Trustee Thomas Glasgow.
This time both measures were unanimously rejected, with Blackwood and Sidor both saying they want to be consistent with the direction the board gave last time.
The board also gave staff direction to examine the language in village code and bring back new wording that would specifically outline the trustee's direction against backyard chickens.
Nine people spoke both for and against the hens, though most neighbors of the petitioners were against the idea with concerns about smells, noise and predators.
Jennifer Murtoff, an urban chicken consultant in Chicago, testified for Scallon and Green and has supported backyard chickens around the Chicago suburbs.
“I've seen very positive examples of chicken-keeping in suburban and urban settings,” she said when discussing the issue last year. “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.”
Several other suburbs already allow backyard chickens, including Batavia, Cary, Evanston, Lombard, Oak Park and Naperville. On Monday, Palatine approved one resident's request to house chickens, but on a property that was more than 2 acres, which Village President Arlene Mulder said is very rare in Arlington Heights.
Supporters weren't ruffled by the denials though.
“We were successful in getting the word out about chickens,” Green said. “That's shown just by the number of people at this meeting and who support us.”