Elgin to expand backyard chickens to 100 homes
Elgin residents James Halik and Jim Armstrong were on a waitlist for a year before they got their license to keep backyard chickens, but others can expect much shorter waits after the city expands its program to up to 100 homes.
"It's been absolutely wonderful," Halik said. "They are very entertaining."
The program allows up to 25 single-family homes in Elgin to have licenses for chicken coops, and there are 36 more on the waitlist, city spokeswoman Molly Center said. Residents are allowed to have up to four hens, no roosters.
A pilot program kicked off in early 2015. The city council voted unanimously last week to expand the program, with a final vote expected Sept. 13.
Councilman Terry Gavin voted "no" in the past but was supportive last week. "It hasn't been a burden … I think it's worked out well," he said.
Halik and Armstrong got a license in May and have four Plymouth Rock hens they expect will produce about 850 eggs per year. The couple plans to donate eggs to community breakfasts in Elgin, and possibly donate the hens when they are older.
"Urban farming is great, and (the chickens) are also therapeutic," said Halik, who suffers from lupus and chronic migraines.
Armstrong said it's "fantastic" the city expanded the program. "It's also one of those things where, if you have kids, kids can learn about sustainability and how you can learn to be self-sufficient, and be part of that type of culture."
There have been no complaints about backyard chickens under the program; an initial complaint was resolved after the resident installed a fence, Center said. Some residents own chickens illegally, and the city will expand its educational campaign about the licensing program with bilingual fliers, she added.
Councilman Rich Dunne noted some residents can't have chickens due to homeowners association rules.
Among those used to be Christina "Tia" Aagesen, who first spurred the city to allow backyard chickens. She and her husband moved to a new home in June and are on the waitlist, said Aagesen, chairwoman of the city's sustainability commission.
"I didn't realize it was going to be so many people (interested)," she said. "It's really exciting how much people are starting to pay attention to what sustainability really is."