Fox Lake urged to take a second look at chickens

FOX LAKE – At least two Fox Lake residents want to vote again on an ordinance to allow some residents to raise hens.

Rebecca Boettcher and Robert Watson Jr. asked the Fox Lake Village Board to reconsider the ordinance, which it rejected, 4-2.

The issue could go back to the Plan Commission for revisions and resubmitted to the Village Board, Trustee Kevin Burt said. Burt is the board's liaison for the Plan Commission.

Regardless, though, Burt said he doesn't see a change in his vote against allowing chickens.

"If I had wanted to raise chickens, I would have chosen to live in an agricultural area," he said. "But I didn't, and so I bought my house in a residential area."

He pointed to health concerns, including feces runoff into waterways that meander through Fox Lake.

Trustee Jon Mumford, who also voted no the first time, said he was open to revisions, particularly a minimum lot size. He suggested an acre.

"The smaller lots, they're not conducive for raising chickens," he said.

The rejected ordinance would have allowed people in single-family residences of less than acre to raise up to four hens and those on larger lots to have eight. Roosters would have been prohibited.

Even at one acre that Mumford would consider, Boettcher's two Barred Rock hens would be against the law.

Boettcher and her husband, Ryan Erber, both 30, have kept two hens in a coop behind their small, yellow house since May. The house on Rushmore Road sits on a lot near where Squaw Creek feeds into Fox Lake.

She was involved in the approximately six-month process during which the Plan Commission drafted an ordinance on how to handle chickens if the board decided to OK them.

Boettcher said was disappointed with the board's decision and frustrated with what she said was a mockery of the work put into the ordinance.

"I have listened to the audio of the proceedings, and what I hear is a system that is broken," she said at Tuesday's meeting.

"I hear no frank discussion of real concerns, only I statements like 'I don't agree' and 'I don't want this.' It is my understanding that trustees are elected to look at the facts presented and decide what is best for Fox Lake and its residents."

She said it seemed trustees didn't have the information that was presented to the Plan Commission over several meetings concerning keeping chickens.

Watson provided the board with a fact sheet addressing some of the concerns, including noise, potential eyesores and the effect on property values.

Both Mumford and Burt took exception to Boettcher's contention. Mumford said he had learned more about domesticated chickens than he ever would have thought he'd need to know.

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