Fox River Grove village board agrees not to allow backyard chickens

Updated 10/7/2020 12:24 PM

Fox River Grove residents will still not be able to keep backyard chickens, as the village board decided not to direct village staff to draft an ordinance on the matter during a meeting Tuesday.

Among other concerns, trustees said the lots in Fox River Grove are too small to keep chickens and it wasn't a good idea to pursue the issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.


During public comment, those in favor of keeping chickens said it is a good way to get fresh eggs, provide children with information on where their food comes from, and manage bugs.

Those who were against backyard chickens said the birds would attract predators, potentially lower property values, and carry diseases.

A formal vote was not taken at the village board's committee of the whole meeting, which was conducted remotely because of COVID-19, but the general consensus from trustees was not to move the topic forward.

In September, Crystal Lake city council members voted not to take action on a motion that would have directed city staff to finalize a proposed city code amendment allowing residents to have backyard hens, meaning people who live there won't legally be allowed to have backyard chickens either.

A Johnsburg teenager is petitioning the village there to loosen rules around chickens.

Though McHenry County as a whole allows people to have up to six chickens in their yard, in the immediate Crystal Lake area, Prairie Grove is the only local municipality allowing them.

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The village of less than 2,000 people limits them to properties with 5 or more acres.

The last time Fox River Grove discussed allowing residents to have backyard chickens was a year and a half ago, and officials ultimately decided not to move forward with the idea.

Trustee Jennifer Curtiss said she can't be in favor of backyard chickens as the village's lots are very small and chickens make noise.

She added the village doesn't have the staff time to devote and invest into allowing people to keep chickens, especially if someone's neighbor were to have complaints about them.

Trustee Marc McLaughlin said he could envision a potential pilot program for backyard chickens, but he did not want to move forward with the idea Tuesday in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

If the village were to have a public hearing on backyard chickens, McLaughlin said he expects the room to be filled with people because of the number of emails and calls the village has been receiving.


"There's no way we should be doing that in this current situation," he said.

In addition to the calls, emails and numerous public comments that the village received, two petitions, on both sides of the issue, received hundreds of signatures this past summer.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Trustee Jacob Fleischmann said he had friends with backyard hens and sees the benefits of keeping them.

However, those who had chickens lived on large acres of land, Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann said Fox River Grove's lots are too small for chicken coops and expressed concern that having backyard chickens would lead to existing predators potentially being attracted to areas with pets and small children.

"It will create problems with neighbors," he said.

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