Plainfield mulls rules on backyard chickens
By Madhu Mayer For The Herald-News August 14, 2012 10:30AM
The Village of Plainfield is joining the growing number of suburban municipalities that have taken up the issue of allowing backyard chickens, or urban/suburban fowl, in a more conventional subdivision setting. Neighboring Lockport has elect
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:28PM
PLAINFIELD — The Plainfield Village Board on Monday discussed issues related to the keeping of backyard chickens as the current municipal code allows for the keeping of fowl on lots of five acres or more.
“The chicken coops must be set back no less than 100 feet from adjacent residential structures,” planner Jonathan Proulx said.
In recent years, Proulx explained that many municipalities have taken up the issue of allowing backyard chickens, or urban/suburban fowl, in a more conventional subdivision setting. In the Chicago area, these communities include Downers Grove, Batavia, Evanston, Naperville, Oak Park, St. Charles and Warrenville.
Other communities, such as Lockport, McHenry, Lombard and Normal, have considered the issue in recent years and elected not to allow chickens on smaller lots, Proulx said.
“Proponents point to the benefits of backyard chickens, including the potential health, environmental, economic and educational benefits,” he said. “Opposition to urban/suburban chickens has often been based on the perception that allowing activities such may result in noise, odor and public health concerns and might also generate additional administrative and enforcement efforts.”
During Monday’s workshop, trustees reviewed such variables as lot size, maximum number of animals, coop and pen design, code enforcement and registration/permit requirements as some of the parameters to consider before entertaining any specific ordinance proposal. In the end, staff were instructed to compile additional research before making any changes to the current municipal code.
Trustee Bill Lamb said if the village proceeds, he wants to see checks and balances and all strict guidelines enforced.
“If you want to have chickens (no roosters), it makes sense, but it does get expensive (for the owner),” he said.
Trustee Paul Fay expressed reservations after reviewing research compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Chickens carry an awful lot of diseases and some of them can be passed on in close contact,” said Fay. Another concern was enforcement, which, according to Fay, can be difficult due to lack of staffing at the village level.
Trustee Jim Racich said there is support for this type of movement, based on positive emails he received from residents.
“It is sustainable, healthy and not hurting our environment,” said Racich. “It is not that wild of an idea.”