Naperville Council sets 8 as maximum number of chickens on a property
By Hank Beckman For The Sun January 17, 2012 9:36PM
Phyllis Rossow feeds her chickens plant leaves on Sunday in the backyard of her Naperville home. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2012 8:16AM
The chicken debate of 2011 made its way back to the Naperville City Council Tuesday night when the council heard from both sides of the argument over whether chickens should be kept within the city limits.
The council wound up directing staff to prepare an ordinance limiting the number of chickens permitted to eight, and mandating a 30-foot separation between a chicken coop and a neighbor’s house.
“I ask the council not to change anything that we have on the books today,” David Laird, owner of 12 chickens, told the council.
There currently exists no limit on the number of chickens allowed.
Noting that only two of his neighbors had made complaints about the fowl, Laird said that to limit his rights would be to “change a city ordinance into a Rivanna Court ordinance ... all three neighbors are not complaining.”
But some neighbors had a few serious concerns.
Susan Borghesi and her husband Ronald want a complete ban on keeping fowl within city limits.
“We’ve lived here since 1976,” Susan said, noting that the area had undergone many changes that they had adapted to, good or bad. “We never thought we’d be dealing with an issue of chicken-keeping.”
She said that predators such as coyotes were drawn to the chickens. She also said that there is also a concern about the smell that comes along with the chickens.
Ronald Borghesi noted that many surrounding communities prohibited chickens within village or city limits. He said the city was not an appropriate place for them.
Dennis Groenenboom agreed with the Borghesis, assuring the City Council that, depending on the weather, the smell from the coop could easily be detected.
He also stressed the possible effect on property values.
“I’d have to look at it with a tainted eye,” he said of a situation where he might be looking at a house next to one with a chicken coop.
Councilman Bob Fieseler was sympathetic to the neighbors.
“What’s so important about these chickens that the harmony of this neighborhood would be disturbed,” he asked Laird.
Laird responded that he didn’t understand the question.
“I’ve never had a beer with these people,” he said.
Fieseler apologized to the neighbors for the trouble they had gone through.
“All of a sudden you are faced with agricultural activity,” he said. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
But his colleague, Councilman Doug Krause, took a not-so-subtle shot at Fieseler, noting his opposition to the non-binding petition to halt the Smart Grid Initiative, which was supported by over 4,000 people, only to express sympathy to three of Laird’s neighbors.
Laird had supporters on the Council.
Council member Judith Brodhead said that she’d rather live next door to chickens than a barking dog, and Councilman Joe McElroy agreed with her analogy.
Councilman Steve Chirico expressed sympathy with the neighbors, but was also concerned about Laird’s property rights.
The vote to direct staff to prepare the change in the ordinance was 6 to 3 in favor, with Krause, Grant Wehrli and Kenn Miller dissenting.
The opposing neighbors declined comment after the vote, but Laird and his wife Brenda indicated some disappointment, noting their children would be unhappy that some of their chickens had to go.
“They’ve got names,” Brenda said.