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Downers Grove Council to Discuss Regulations on Backyard Chicken Coops

Commissioner Becky Rheintgen requested the council discuss increasing the number of chickens permitted, decreasing setback requirements, banning roosters and requiring a license or permit for keeping chickens, according to village documents.

Downers Grove officials on Tuesday are expected to discuss the village's regulations on backyard chicken coops for the first time in 25 years.

Under the "new business" portion of the meeting agenda, Downers Grove Village Manager David Fieldman has included a memo titled "Discussion of Village Fowl Regulations." The discussion, he wrote, was included at the request of Commissioner Becky Rheintgen.

Downers Grove is one of several Chicago suburbs that allow residents to keep chickens, roosters and other fowl in their backyards. Other communities include Naperville, Plainfield, Brookfield, Westchester, Batavia, Evanston, Schaumburg and Western Springs.

The last time the issue was discussed in Downers Grove was when the current fowl regulations were approved in May 1987, Fieldman said.

The village defines fowl as "any domesticated bird, poultry or water fowl, except for homing pigeons and caged birds kept as house pets." A maximum of four fowl aged 18 weeks or older and four fowl younger than 18 weeks are permitted on residential properties, according to village documents.

Per village code, all fowl must be entirely confined in a pen, coop, building or other enclosure at all times. Enclosures must be set back at least 50 feet from any property line, and shall be kept "clean, sanitary and free from all refuse."

According to Fieldman's memo, Rheintgen has asked that council discuss increasing the number of chickens permitted, decreasing the setback requirements, banning roosters and requiring a license or permit for keeping chickens.

No further information was available regarding Rheintgen's request. However, Fieldman noted in the agenda documents that the village has handled five fowl-related code enforcement cases in 2012, all of which were prompted by resident complaints. Two active enforcement cases are pending.

The item is up for discussion only during Tuesday's village council meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at Village Hall, 801 Burlington Ave. Additional action is dependent on the council's direction, according to meeting documents.

What are your thoughts on backyard chicken coops in Downers Grove? Tell us in the comment section below.

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BS December 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I am in favor of the relaxing of the setback requirements and to give keepres of rogue hens (which I may or not be) a way to be on the up & up. The benefits of keeping a few birds are many and the cons are few. As stated above, they are much more quiet than dogs and produce far less odor than a fesh pile of doggie dump. Us chicken folk are friendly people and usually more than happy to give an impromptu lesson to neighborhood kids. Never saw a youngster that wasn't absolutely enamored with the birds. Didn't even mention the eggs. 3 or 4 birds will lay more than most can consume, so if you are nice, your chicken keeping neighbor also is usually quite happy to give you a few here or there. And YES, they will be the best eggs you ever had!
C. Litigios Moller December 04, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Fresh eggs in the morning are great. I never got sick from the eggs I had for breakfast when visiting friends in the country. I would think chickens in DG would be OK but you would need to limit how many per the standard lot size. I'll let the big thinkers come up with that #.
Village Homesteaders of Palatine December 04, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Hi Gina here from Homesteaders of Palatine and Bring Backyard Hens to Palatine, IL. Just wanted to wish you the best as you make some positive changes to your existing ordinance.
William Vollrath December 06, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Don't discriminate against pig pens!
SB December 06, 2012 at 05:03 PM
It's amazing, Steve, but yes Chickens eat grass and A Lot of it. That's a big reason backyard chicken eggs are so much higher in Omega 3s then cage-raised chickens.

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