Divided Wheeling board shifts policy, votes to allow chickens at home as long as rules followed

  • Wheeling residents will be allowed to keep chickens at home, but they'll have to get village licenses to do it, officials decided Monday.

    Wheeling residents will be allowed to keep chickens at home, but they'll have to get village licenses to do it, officials decided Monday. Daily Herald File Photo, 2016

 
 
Updated 3/3/2021 11:16 AM

In a policy shift, Wheeling will allow residents to keep chickens in backyard coops for their eggs -- but they'll have to get village licenses and follow strict regulations.

The village board narrowly approved rules for chicken keeping Monday.

 

Under the provisions, a resident must obtain a license for keeping hens and a building permit before erecting a coop. Licenses will be good for one year and will cost $25 per year.

Up to 25 licenses will be available villagewide on a first-come, first-served basis. Coops and other chicken-related structures will be inspected before licenses are issued.

Registration with the Illinois Department of Agriculture is required, too.

Only hens will be allowed. At least two hens are required and no more than six are allowed. Community Development Director Ross Klicker explained the two-chicken-minimum rule by saying his research indicated chickens "don't like to be lonely."

Eggs produced by the hens must be for personal consumption and not sale.

Hens must be kept in coops with attached runs to protect them from predators and keep them off neighboring properties. Additional rules govern the size and location of coops.

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The measure passed 4-3.

Trustees Joe Vito, Dave Vogel and Ray Lang voted for the proposal; Mary Krueger, Mary Papantos and Jim Ruffatto opposed it. Village President Pat Horcher broke the tie in favor of the plan.

Horcher, who grew up on a farm that had chickens, said he occasionally proposed such regulations when he was a trustee but found himself in the minority. He learned that divide changed slightly after polling the board a few months ago following an inquiry by local residents.

Regulations are needed to ensure the chickens are treated well and have proper facilities, Horcher said.

People shouldn't worry about chickens getting loose and roaming free in town, Horcher said. Chickens have a lot of natural predators, he said, and problems typically resolve on their own quickly.

On the other side of the debate, Papantos said she's worried about neighbors building unregistered coops or runs that don't meet code restrictions. She also voiced concern about odor.

Klicker said enforcement procedures are in place to handle such complaints, as with any unpleasant odor.

Rolling Meadows, Elgin and Naperville are among the towns that allow backyard coops. Lincolnshire, Fox River Grove and Island Lake are among those that don't.

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