Fox Lake scratches owning chickens

FOX LAKE – Fox Lake is the latest in a series of area communities to say “no” to chickens.

The Fox Lake Village Board in a 4-2 decision voted down a proposed ordinance that would have allowed residents living on plots zoned single-family residential to raise chickens if they obtained a permit.

People on less than an acre would have been allowed a maximum of four hens, and those on larger lots could have had eight.

Fox Lake joins Mundelein, Crystal Lake, McHenry and Lake in the Hills in rejecting chickens. Other communities, though, have said “yes,” including Chicago, Evanston, Long Grove and West Dundee.

Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley wrote to a resident that the city’s decision to against allowing hens came down “what the people of Crystal Lake want this town to be like.” He cited to a lesser degree the possibility of attracting predators and rodents and a potential odor issue.

Planning and zoning commissioners in McHenry worried that chickens weren’t conducive to urban settings.

In Fox Lake, Trustees Donny Schmit and Greg Murrey were the two “yes” votes to allow chickens.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with it,” Schmit said. “They addressed all the issues of noise, smell and predators.”

The Plan Commission held several meetings on the subject and brought in experts from communities that allow chickens before recommending the ordinance to the board in a 3-1 vote.

Allowing chickens had been proposed by Andrew Watson of Fox Lake, an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 274 in Lake Villa. His family would like to raise the hens for their eggs, according to meeting minutes.

The proposed ordinance would have required the hens to be kept in a fenced enclosure with a minimum of two square feet per chicken. It required that coops be at least 25 feet from neighbors’ homes. Neither the hens nor the eggs could have been sold, and the hens could not be slaughtered on the property.

The guidelines are similar to the ones considered elsewhere.

The proposed ordinance prohibited chickens in multifamily complexes, including duplexes, and banned roosters in residential areas.

Currently, chickens are allowed only in lots zoned for agricultural use, Building Commissioner Frank Urbina said.

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