Twice rejected, backyard chickens back on table in Rolling Meadows

  • While backyard chickens have been rejected twice before in Rolling Meadows, a new city council this week expressed openness to the idea.

      While backyard chickens have been rejected twice before in Rolling Meadows, a new city council this week expressed openness to the idea. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 
Posted7/19/2019 5:27 AM

A little more than a year after city leaders rejected calls to allow backyard chickens, a new Rolling Meadows council is open to the idea.

Former Alderman Rob Banger Jr. tried twice to get egg-laying hens permitted in residential yards -- in 2014 and 2018 -- but concerns over cleanliness, the possible increase in predators like coyotes, and diversion of city staff time scuttled the proposals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A citizens group, Rolling Meadows Citizens for Chickens, formed in the ensuing months to brainstorm ways to allay the council's concerns and lobby once more for a city ordinance that would permit chickens.

With three new aldermen and a new mayor in place after local elections in April, supporters have reason for optimism. During a committee-of-the-whole discussion this week, five out of six aldermen indicated their support for allowing backyard chickens, after the city staff works on further revisions to a draft ordinance.

That's a reversal from last year's council tally when five aldermen opposed the chickens.

New Alderman Lara Sanoica has led the renewed effort to get backyard chickens in the city. She says six other towns that allow chickens -- Bartlett, Bensenville, St. Charles, Oak Park, Berwyn and Evanston -- have not reported problems since implementing their programs.

Mayor Joe Gallo, the former Ward 4 alderman, was the only other member of council to support Banger's ordinance last year. He said he's found many arguments against backyard chickens, such as increased odors or predators, to be "purely emotional driven."

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He argued there are more bad odors from garbage put on the side of the road, or an overabundance of dog feces from some people's backyards.

"All of these fears or trepidations ... the same argument (can be made) for any other family pet we have in our homes today," Gallo said.

Alderman John D'Astice, the lone "no" vote in an informal straw poll Tuesday night, said it could lead to fights among neighbors. He suggests the city could send anonymous letters to neighbors of anyone seeking chickens to get their approval first.

"It's about neighbors and community, and this could really make some people very upset," D'Astice said.

While the city's rules that would permit chickens are still in draft form, officials have discussed possibly allowing up to six hens per property and no roosters, and chicken coops would have to be at least 10 feet from lot lines.

The city may initially allow up to 25 homes to have backyard chicken licenses. Officials say about 10 families so far have expressed interest.

There could also be a one-time $25 fee to get a license.

The council is expected to discuss the matter at another committee meeting before a formal ordinance is approved.

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