Chickens could be coming to Wauconda backyards

  • Wauconda officials are considering allowing residents to keep hens in backyard coops.

    Wauconda officials are considering allowing residents to keep hens in backyard coops. Courtesy of Liberty Prairie Foundation

 
 
Updated 1/18/2017 4:13 PM

After months of discussions, Wauconda soon could allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards.

Proposed regulations have been completed and could be approved by the village board at its Feb. 7 meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The plan would limit interested homeowners to four hens. No roosters would be allowed.

Hens will have to be kept in coops that have fenced-in runs, so the birds don't run wild. Those coops will have size limits, too.

Additionally, the on-site slaughter of hens would be prohibited.

Violators would face fines ranging from $25 to $750.

"We're making this fairly strict," Trustee Tim Howe said during a discussion of the proposed ordinance Tuesday night at village hall.

People wouldn't be able to sell eggs in residential areas, either. But that shouldn't be an issue, said Howe, who runs the village committee that's been studying the issue.

Hens typically produce only one egg a day, he said -- and with a maximum of four hens allowed, egg production won't be very significant.

"I don't think anyone is going to go into this as an economic development tool," Howe said.

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Wauconda's current ordinances don't specifically address chickens, so officials treat the birds as livestock and restrict them to areas zoned for agricultural uses.

But the issue has arisen because of suburbanites who want to raise chickens for their eggs.

Naperville, Elgin, St. Charles, Lombard and Batavia are among the suburbs allowing backyard coops. Mundelein, Libertyville and Arlington Heights are among the towns that have rejected residents' requests to keep chickens.

In Wauconda, enforcement will be handled by the police department. If someone calls to complain about chickens, officers will investigate and see if rules are being violated, Chief David Wermes said.

A homeowner likely will be issued a warning at first, and officers will return in a week or so to ensure the problem has been resolved, Wermes said. Further action could be taken if the problem persists.

During Tuesday's discussion, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said he still has "some reservations" about allowing chickens in town but said officials have tightened the proposed rules "as best we can."

Howe said he'd be surprised if Wauconda encounters any chicken-related problems. He thinks only 10 or 12 homeowners will take up the hobby, and he expects they will be "incredibly responsible."

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