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Chicken advocates want revote in Fox Lake

Proponents say trustees did not consider issue seriously enough

(Josh Peckler – jpeckler@shawmedia.com)
Barred Rock chickens move around their pen Friday at the Fox Lake home of Rebecca Boettcher. The Fox Lake Village Board voted against allowing single-family residences to raise chickens, but there are some residents who still raise chickens are their property.

FOX LAKE – There’s an underground chicken movement in Fox Lake.

Despite the Fox Lake Village Board denying, in a 4-2 vote, an ordinance that would have allowed some residents to raise hens, several residents plan on keeping the prohibited poultry and want the board to reconsider.

Rebecca Boettcher and her husband, Ryan Erber, both 30, acquired two Barred Rock hens for free when the store thought they were going to die. The black-and-white hens have lived in a coop behind their small, yellow home since May.

Boettcher was one of several Fox Lake residents who advocated for a change in village code. They devoted about six months to helping the village Plan Commission draft the ordinance.

It would have allowed those living on plots zoned single-family residential to raise hens, but not roosters, 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.

The ordinance laid out coop restrictions and prohibited the sale of eggs.

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

But it seemed some of the village trustees who voted against the measure didn’t know what was allowed and prohibited under the plan, Boettcher said, adding that they just acted like the ordinance was a joke.

“We addressed all the negatives [the Plan Commission members] had brought to us, like any nuisance from smell or noise,” she said. “We put a lot of parameters in for coop design to make sure they weren’t an eyesore.”

The Plan Commission ultimately recommended the ordinance in a 3-1 vote after holding several meetings.

One proponent for the ordinance change posted audio from the meeting online.

“I’m not in favor of it,” Trustee Nancy Koske said. “I mean, we’ve all lived next door to people who have dogs that don’t behave or whatever. I don’t want a chicken or a rooster next door to me or across the street.”

Two other trustees cut in to say, “No roosters.”

“Oh, thank God,” Koske responded. “I’m just not in favor of it. I think it would be a mess. I just think it’s just one more thing that will cause us problems. We have enough trouble trying to get people to clean up their yards.”

Boettcher disagrees.

“All my neighbors are happy with with it,” she said. “My chickens helped fertilize a couple neighbors’ gardens this last year. They’ll aerate soil and stuff. It’s weird because I see neighbors that I never saw before. They’ll bring their kids around.”

Ted and LuAnn Stay, 63 and 59, live about a block from Boettcher and Erber. They noticed Boettcher’s chickens over the summer when walking their dogs.

They had considered getting chickens so she could feed her family more organically. Figuring Boettcher’s hens were on the up and up, the Stays ordered five or six hens, LuAnn Stay said.

“We did that before all of what’s going on,” she said. “We’ve already ordered them. That’s why we’re so concerned about what’s going on.”

She, too, isn’t worried about the neighbors.

“We don’t have any issues with our neighbors,” she said. “We’re not going to get a rooster. [Chickens] don’t make any noise. Our fence is a privacy fence. They’re not even going to see them. I don’t think there’s going to a problem.”

If you go

Proponents of an ordinance that would have allowed some Fox Lake residents to raise chickens plan on asking the Village Board for a revote. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fox Lake Village Hall, 66 Thillen Drive.

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