Both the Development, Planning and Zoning and Public Affairs and Safety committees will take a crack at a potential change in city code that would allow residents to own chickens.
Currently, Elmhurst's Municipal Code prohibits residents from keeping a “stable, poultry yard or other place for the housing of any farm animal.”
But backyard egg production is no longer rarer than hen's teeth in the suburbs. Planning and Zoning Administrator Than Werner said city staff's preliminary research showed that most towns that allow chickens have a limit on the number of animals allowed and do not permit roosters. Slaughtering the birds, Werner emphasized, would not be allowed.
Many also regulate where a coop can be located in a yard and if permits are needed for one. Oak Park allows up to two chickens per yard and Batavia mandates the birds be in a covered, fenced enclosure.
DPZ chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Steve Morley reported that his committee will focus on the zoning questions and the PAS committee will study any safety issues related to chicken care.
Third Ward Alderman Dannee Polomsky asked Werner to find out if any local communities attempted a trial run on chicken husbandry.
Owning chickens could be a “good, wholesome activity for a family,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Dunn, who was one of the council members who asked for committee consideration of the issue.
Residents who attended the meeting agreed.
Jan Happel told the committee that rearing poultry is “rewarding” and a “great learning tool for children.”
Erin Langan said allowing the animals would attract to Elmhurst families who are concerned about living sustainably.
“It can only help Elmhurst,” she said.
More than 700 residents have already signed a petition in support of chickens in the city.
Morley asked city staff to keep the two committees abreast of each other's work.
“We don't want to run afoul of Public Affairs,” Morley said.
“I'll peck away at it,” Werner replied.