Though a majority of Planning Commission members hesitated to consider it further on Tuesday, township planner Mark Holdren will draft an ordinance that would allow chickens on residential lots, offering plenty of options for further consideration.
The council referred the issue to the Planning Commission. This wasn‘t the group’s first consideration of a small-lot chicken request. Another was made in 2009 and, at that time, staff also drafted an ordinance. However, the commission and council declined to approve it.
During Tuesday’s discussion, some commission members who were part of the 2009 discussion said they hold the same opinions on the concept.
Janet Sulzer said she remains in favor of chickens, but with limitations, like prohibiting roosters and other types of fowl. No other local municipality allows roosters, only chicken hens.
“As someone that grew up in the era when Woolworth’s had ducks and chicks at Easter time, I had some,” she said.
“You have to keep them safe. There are predators that will take them away. That’s why I’m saying coops.”
Others also were concerned about predators, but resident Jackie Bonomo, who helped write the sample ordinance, said they already exist.
“I’ve had my cat attacked by a hawk or an owl,” she said, adding she’s seen deer and bears.
“And I live in residential Lemont. The creek is down the hill, the mountain is up the hill. As far as encouraging predators, I think they’re already there.”
College Township currently allows chickens and other livestock on agricultural zones, on lots that are at least 10 acres in size.
After a discussion earlier in the evening about allowing livestock to graze in the forest district, some commission members had concerns about lot sizes. However, they didn’t have an answer, and Holdren said he would present ranges for future discussion.
“Ten is too much but zero’s too little,” said new commission member Rich Francke.
Commission Chairman Ray Forziat said he leans toward keeping the 10-acre regulation and chickens as an agricultural use.