Cary seeks public input on allowing backyard chickens

Village Board seeks public input on allowing backyard hens

CARY – Veterinarian Christy McCratic has co-workers who own chickens and from time to time bring in eggs to their Schaumburg office.

The Cary resident now is interested in having her own backyard hens as a fun project and to remind others that food doesn’t originate at the grocery store.

She asked the village to allow backyard hens. The village has decided to consider the request further and is conducting an online survey to see how residents would feel about backyard hens.

“I won’t be heartbroken if they say ‘no,’ ” McCratic said. “But if they say ‘yes,’ it would be educational.”

McCratic has children who went to Sts. Peter and Paul School, where at one point their classes raised chicks that were eventually given to farms.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if they could take that animal home, if the parents were up for it?” McCratic said.

McCratic said that if the Cary Village Board is ultimately receptive to the idea, the municipality could have a trial run with a handful of residents to see how it goes and whether there are any negatives.

“Maybe have a few people doing it and see if it’s easy to do,” McCratic said. “Can the animal be cared for if you don’t have a medical background and have them report back to if it’s doable or not.”

Trustee Bob Bragg said he would be against the idea of backyard hens.

“I’m old fashioned,” Bragg said. “Chickens should be on a farm. We have enough domesticated animals that residents don’t take care of. We don’t need an additional one. I’m open to hear about it, but it’s weird to me to have chickens.”

A majority of Chicago-area municipalities have either prohibited backyard chickens, or put in place very strict regulations, which ultimately restrict the number of residents eligible to have the birds, said Chris Stilling, Cary’s director of community and economic development.

Communities such as McHenry and Crystal Lake in 2011 discussed the possibility of backyard hens, but their city councils ultimately stopped the plans. The Lake in the Hills Village Board turned down backyard chickens in 2012.

Draft regulations proposed by Cary officials include a maximum of four hens per property, no roosters, keeping chickens confined to a coop or run, and restricting chickens to zoning districts for single-family detached houses.

“These are regulations that are manageable,” Stilling said.

Trustee Jeff Kraus said he wants more discussion on the matter.

“I have a problem with people who look at chickens and have an aversion to chickens in your backyard versus three big dogs in your backyard,” Kraus said. “I would rather have three chickens in my neighbor’s backyard than three big dogs that are back there barking at 6 o’clock in the morning.”

Kraus said that he believe that a dog would just be as likely as a chicken to carry a disease.

“What makes the difference between the two is whether or not you’re keeping basic hygiene,” Kraus said. “That’s the deciding factor if an animal is going to carry a disease.”

Trustee Karen Lukasik said she would want to hear from residents, and that she’s not against the idea.

“I think there’s things we have to monitor to be sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned,” Lukasik said.


To participate in Cary’s online survey on backyard chickens, go to www.caryillinois.com.

Proposed draft regulations for Cary

• Maximum of four hens per property. No roosters.

• Chickens would have to be confined to a coop or a run in a backyard.

• Chickens would be restricted to zoning districts for single-family detached houses.

• Coops have to be at least eight feet from a rear lot line and 16 feet from a neighboring house.

• Coops would have to be kept clean and feed would have to be kept in rodent-proof containers.

• Coops would have to be designed with same requirements as a shed.

• Residents with chickens would need to get a $50 permit from the village, and have to register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

• Slaughtering would not be allowed.

Source: Village of Cary

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