Batavia might let schools keep chickens

  • Batavia aldermen are considering a proposal to allow Montessori Academy students to raise chickens. Kids would be feeding the chickens, cleaning the coops and collecting the eggs.

      Batavia aldermen are considering a proposal to allow Montessori Academy students to raise chickens. Kids would be feeding the chickens, cleaning the coops and collecting the eggs. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/18/2015 3:17 PM

A Batavia private school might receive approval to raise chickens on its grounds, as an educational experience for students.

At aldermen's direction, a change in the city's law about home chickens is being prepared, to allow them at schools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Montessori Academy, 595 S. River St., wants to keep a half-dozen hens in a coop to be built between two of the school's buildings, according to a letter to the city.

Students would feed the hens, clean the coop and collect the eggs, which would be distributed to the school's member families.

The school has students in preschool through eighth grade.

At a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, Alderman Marty Callahan asked if changing the law would open the way for other agencies, such as the park district, to be able to have chickens.

Planning and Zoning Officer Joel Strassman said no; it would just be for schools on land designated for public facilities and institutions.

Montessori Academy sits on six acres. Its neighbors are a VFW Post to the south, an excavation company to the north, and the Fox River to the west.

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"Please don't add goats and cows. I can't go through all those hearings," Alderman Susan Stark jokingly told Montessori director Jocelyn Scotty. She was referring to the many meetings where city officials and residents debated whether to allow homeowners to keep chickens.

Since Batavia began permitting backyard hens in 2011, 20 people have gotten building permits for coops. There have been few complaints, according to Strassman. One time police were called when a chicken escaped and was wandering in the road.

Strassman noted any change would apply to other schools in Batavia. Most of them are in residential areas, he said.

Last school year, a class at Grace McWayne Elementary School incubated chickens. It offered a 24-hour live webcam broadcast of the process.

Other Kane County schools also hatch chicks, through a program with the University of Illinois Extension.

A vote on the matter hasn't been scheduled.

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