Lakemoor commission considers request for backyard chickens
A public hearing to consider the sometimes divisive question of raising chickens in residential areas will be held Tuesday in Lakemoor.
The village's advisory planning and zoning commission will hear a request from Jessica Rios for zoning changes that will officially allow her to keep chickens and a coop to house them.
Rios lives on a quarter acre at the corner of Park Road and Sunset Drive and has kept chickens the past three years. During the day, the chickens are kept in what Rios says is defined as a dog run. However, the structure is described as a coop in a staff report to the commission that was built without a permit and not allowed in the high density single-family residential district.
Last August, after being told chicken coops would need to be listed as a permitted use, Rios said she stopped using a 32 square foot coop on wheels and set up a bird room in her home for the chickens to stay at night.
Rios said she asked the village to consider an ordinance specifically dealing with chickens, but was told to pursue the zoning change instead.
"All of our neighbors like them," Rios said of her chickens.
However, under village code accessory structures such as decks and sheds are permitted in residential areas, but chicken coops are not.
"We feel it's not appropriate," said Matt Dabrowski, director of community and economic development.
According to information provided to the commission, chickens are considered a farm animal and keeping them is allowed only as a conditional use in agricultural or mining districts.
Rios' request asks that chickens and chicken coops be allowed as a conditional use in all residential districts and as a permitted obstruction in a rear yard. The hearing is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at village hall, 28581 Route 120.
She said she keeps chickens for stress reduction and sustainability. They eat weeds and bugs and their droppings can be used for compost.
"They're affectionate. They're really fun to watch," she said. "The biggest benefit is the family bonding."
In order to recommend approval to the village board, the planning and zoning commission must find the request is compatible with the character of the neighborhood and trend of development; is consistent with the village's comprehensive plan; and does not present an environmental nuisance.
That's not the case with Rios' request, according to Dabrowski's report. He also found there are no development trends to support the request and that keeping farm animals creates potential concerns about odor, noise and predators.
"The next thing you know, you'll have people asking for pigs and goats," he said.
Rios' is the first request of its kind in Lakemoor, according to Dabrowski.
Requests to keep chickens in backyards for eggs or other benefits is not uncommon in the suburbs, but results have varied.
Last fall Des Plaines rejected a test program introduced by Mayor Matt Bogusz, but Elgin officials expanded their pilot program. In Sugar Grove, Village President Sean Michels mayor broke a tie to allow a trial program to raise chickens.
Closer to Lakemoor, neighboring Wauconda allows chickens (but not roosters) in homes on lots of at least 7,300 square feet.
Naperville, St. Charles, Lombard and Batavia are among the other suburbs allowing backyard coops, but Mundelein, Libertyville and Arlington Heights do not.