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No More Crying Fowl — Board Rejects Backyard Chickens

Concerns about overall aesthetics and fears about attracting coyotes persuaded trustees to turn back a recommendation to permit more widespread possession of hens.

Jennifer and Jeff Spitz showed up at the Village Board meeting Tuesday as self-admitted “lawbreakers.”

And the couple left several hours later with the same status.

Despite testifying that their two chickens are “wonderful pets” and promote better understanding of the food chain, the Spitzes were unable to persuade the board to expand Northbrook residents’ ability to raise and keep chickens.

Coming after a series of debates, the board voted 5-2 against amending its current ordinance that limits the possession of chickens to residents possessing a two-acre plot, in which the chicken coop would be at least 150 feet from the property line.

Citing village aesthetics and safety concerns that coyotes and other predators would be attracted by the chickens, board members rejected the recommendation of its Communications and Legislation Committee that endorsed the ordinance’s revision. The committee suggested the revision be based on an Evanston law regulating chicken possession.

The only pro-amendment votes came from trustees Todd Heller and Bob Israel. Trustee Kathryn Cielsa, who previously appeared to support the liberalization of the law, voted with the majority.

Safety concerns cited

Ciesla spoke for herself and Village President Sandra Frum when she cited the attraction of coyotes to chicken coops.

“I’m absolutely for property rights,” Ciesla said. “Coops attract predatory animals. Safety concerns weigh heavily for me. Coops are a disadvantage and affect the ambience of the community.”

Frum added: “My biggest concern is safety. We have a lot of forest preserves. We have a lot of predators, particularly coyotes. Chicken coops and coyotes are a disconcerting mix.”

But Jennifer Spitz, who along with her husband and longtime chicken advocate Christine Buti were the only residents who spoke up in favor of the amendment, said coyotes would not differentiate between a a coop on a two-acre lot and one in a standard back yard.

“It’s fear of the unknown,” she said. “It’s a very conservative community. We live in a cul-de-sac. Our neighbors love our chickens. We have wild ducks that make more noise than the chickens.”

Spitz said no village official has approached them yet about giving up their chickens.

Trustees James Karagianis and A.C. Buehler III were brief in their verbal opposition to ordinance changes. But Trustee Michael Scolaro said if the amendment were approved, what would stop other animal advocates from seeking official endorsement.

“I’m concerned if we allowed chickens, there’d be a proposal for goats,” he said.

Support from some

The Communications and Legislation Committee liked the parts of the Evanston law that banned roosters, limited the number of hens to six, prohibited slaughtering of chickens and mandated informing neighbors of the fowl.

In backing the proposed changes, Heller said chickens have not reduced property values in communities in which they’re allowed. Israel said “it would be a great thing to bring the community back to nature.”

Peggy K April 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Seriously? Coops affect the ambience of the community? If that were the case, every backyard that has a little playhouse for the kids would be banned. Most of the arguments presented against this proposed ordinance are lame. It's not like keeping chickens is not allowed at all. Just not for everyone. Hmm...is that discriminatory?
Jennifer Fisher April 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Thanks for commenting, folks. For those of you who disagree (or agree, for that matter) with this ruling and want to speak out more, we welcome letters to the editor. Send them to northbrook@patch.com.
Jennifer B June 05, 2012 at 09:49 AM
What gives these pathetic pond scum government offcials the right to say you can't have a chicken? .... Oh thats right they might lose money
Rick January 13, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Good luck with the rodents that find your chicken coops. Your neighbors will love you.
DJ Rummel May 13, 2013 at 06:10 PM
glenbrook north is having a trial run with google computers, why not have a trial run with chickens, Its a win win, If they attract coyotes, we can cull the overpopulation of coyotes that are fine with human interaction, And if we see that they are empty threats, We can keep the chickens, And also, all barnyard animals(save cows and horses,) are not messy unless uncared for, and I bet If I can get an appointment, I can change this law, Because goats chickens, and pigs, are all stereotyped as filthy, Pigs make better pets than dogs, Chickens provide free eggs, reducing pollution, and promoting the growth of more cash crops, thus giving the government more money helping the environment, And goats produce milk for cheeses. I propose that we have a trial run, for 1 month, And see how it goes, and if it Fails, thats life. But if it succeeds, the city government could implore a chicken tax of 50$ per chicken Per 6 months. This is profitable to the city, and allows us free eggs. If ANYONE ON THE COUNCIL SEES THIS, eMAIIL ME AT fire7ice3@yahoo.com, In order to negotiate with me. I am a dedicated persuesive individual, and if this goes wrong, Ill take full responsibility.

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