Elgin looks at preliminary chicken regulations
Members of the Elgin City Council OK'd drafting an ordinance that would allow backyard chickens.
Council members heard a presentation by management analyst Aaron Cosentino Wednesday, and are expected to debate the topic at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting.
Possible regulations could include having a maximum of four hens -- no roosters -- on single-family residential lots only, and allowing at least 10 square foot per bird inside coops, which would be no larger than 150 square feet, Cosentino said.
The city could limit coops to a minimum of 20 feet from neighboring property lines, or effectively 26 feet -- including required setbacks -- from neighboring buildings, he said.
That would be in line with general provisions in suburbs that allow chickens, he said.
Councilman Toby Shaw said he's in favor of debating the proposal, but he'd want to reduce the minimum distance to 15 feet.
Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger said she supports allowing backyard chickens.
"For people that are pushing back on this ... the chances are probably small that their neighbor is going to get it," she said.
A 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that backyard chickens are a growing trend, with 4 percent of households in Los Angeles, Denver, Miami and New York planning to have that in the next five years, Cosentino said.
"The chances of you being affected are slim to none,"said Elgin resident Christina Aagesen, a chickens proponent who addressed the city's sustainability commission and the city council in April.
"Beyond that, you have your homeowners association to work through and your own neighbors. You can discuss it at a personal level with them."
City council members could decide to hold a public meeting on the topic, an idea floated in recent weeks, Cosentino said.
At least 14 suburbs allow backyard chickens, including Batavia, Naperville, West Dundee, Bartlett, Libertyville and Warrenville. The animals are typically required to stay inside unless supervised.
As for noise concerns, chicken clucking measures at about 70 decibels, compared to human conversation at 60 decibels and dog barking at 90 to 100 decibels, Cosentino said.