Should backyard chickens be allowed in Wauconda?

 
 
Posted7/30/2016 7:20 AM
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  • Wauconda officials are investigating whether to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards. They would join Batavia, Elgin, Lombard, Naperville, and St. Charles in allowing chickens.

    Wauconda officials are investigating whether to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards. They would join Batavia, Elgin, Lombard, Naperville, and St. Charles in allowing chickens. Courtesy of Liberty Prairie Foundation

Prompted by residents' inquiries, Wauconda officials are investigating whether to allow people to keep chickens in their backyards.

Village boards and city councils across the Chicago area have debated the issue in recent years, thanks to a growing number of suburbanites who want to raise chickens for their eggs.

Wauconda's village codes don't specifically address backyard chickens, so officials treat the birds as livestock and restrict them to areas zoned for agricultural uses, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said.

But with the pro-chicken movement gaining momentum in the Chicago area, "it was only a matter of time before the question was asked here," Maxeiner said.

Wauconda's license and administration committee will tackle the issue when it meets Aug. 30. That session is set for 5:30 p.m. at village hall, 101 N. Main St.

Noise, odor, cleanliness and containment options are among the issues Maxeiner expects will be debated.

Among Wauconda's chicken proponents are residents John Stanley and his wife, Pamela. They launched a Facebook page called "Backyard Chickens for Wauconda" to promote the cause.

"I have wanted my own chickens for fresh eggs since I was a little boy and spent the night at a friend's house who had chickens," Stanley said. "I thought it was great to eat breakfast from eggs that were just laid."

Stanley wants the village to allow people to own a small number of egg-laying hens at their homes. Hens are quieter than noisy roosters, which aren't needed to produce eggs anyway -- only to fertilize them.

"When (hens) make the occasional egg-laying cluck for a few minutes a day, it's a much quieter decibel level than a barking dog or chirping songbird," Stanley said.

Requests to legalize backyard coops have been met with a mixed response in the suburbs.

Earlier this month, the Sleepy Hollow village board voted against such agricultural endeavors. Officials there expressed concerns about the potential smell and noise.

Mundelein, Libertyville and Arlington Heights leaders also have rejected residents' requests to keep chickens.

Conversely, Naperville, Elgin, St. Charles, Lombard and Batavia are among the suburbs allowing backyard coops.

Wauconda Trustee Ken Arnswald spent time on farms as a kid, and he called fresh eggs "second to none." But in an urban area, other factors need to be considered before allowing chickens, he said.

"Such as your neighbors," Arnswald said.

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