Why South Elgin decided not to allow backyard chickens
South Elgin trustees shut down the idea of allowing backyard chickens during a discussion Monday night.
Residents might end up not taking care of the chickens, causing complaints from neighbors, and a proliferation would put a burden on code enforcement, board members said.
Board members said they might be inclined to allow backyard chickens if the village could establish a program with a capped number of licenses per year, but that's not possible in South Elgin because it is not a home rule community, they said.
The discussion came after resident Barbara Diepenbrock spoke at village board meetings asking for backyard chickens to be allowed in South Elgin.
Diepenbrock said she had collected 34 signatures on an online petition. She posted on her "South Elgin Henmaid" Facebook page Tuesday morning that she believes trustees' concerns "are unfounded and grown out of a place of misinformation."
"I respect that they have concerns about the rights of those that do not want or own chickens but you can't or, at least, you shouldn't already decide that there is going to be a problem when there is zero evidence to show that will be the case. I also do not feel that they have taken time to educate themselves on urban chicken keeping," she wrote.
Community Development Director Nancy Hill presented information to the village board about backyard chicken programs in towns including Elgin, Bartlett and St. Charles. Trustee Scott Richmond asked Hill if the programs elicited complaints. Hill said she hadn't looked into that.
In Elgin, which allows up to 100 residential permits, the program hasn't caused any major issues since it was created in 2015.
South Elgin village Trustee Lisa Guess said backyard chickens can be educational for kids. However, "Not everyone is going to build a chicken coop that is going to be easy on everyone's eyes that the neighbor is going to appreciate and is going to keep the chickens in."
The response on social media was about split between supporters and opponents, but "I'm not sure people understand the complexity of it," Trustee Michael Kolodziej said.
"I don't think we have the manpower to enforce it," Village President Steve Ward said. "We have a hard time getting people to cut grass and maintain the exterior of their homes with the staff we have," he said.
Communities with 25,000 or more residents are automatically home-rule. Non-home rule communities can become home rule by referendum vote. South Elgin had an estimated 23,447 residents in 2018, as per the U.S. Census.
"I'd be willing to revisit this if and when we hit the home rule of 25,000, but it may not be for four or five years," Kolodziej said.