Mundelein resident pushes for allowing chickens in backyards
Mundelein, 7/11/12 Holly Kim and her daughter Wendy pose with their dog Batman in their backyard near their garden at their Mundelein home July 11. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:10AM
MUNDELEIN -- Holly Kim believes residents should have the ability to possess chickens as backyard pets.
Kim of Mundelein and a small group of residents have been pushing for a change in the village zoning code.
“I’ve been trying to advocate to the village that there are a bunch of intelligent and responsible people that want this,” she said.
The issue is not without controversy, however.
Some Mundelein village trustees are skeptical of the plan, including trustee Terri Voss. The plan would allow residents to have up to five chickens on a lot at one time in an enclosed chicken coop in their backyard, subject to certain village rules.
“I don’t know that the people of Mundelein want to go back to a time where people have chickens in their backyard,” Voss said. “I’d say that 95 percent of the people I’ve talked to are not in favor allowing people to raise chickens or bees in their backyard.”
The issue was scheduled to go before the village plan commission on July 25 as part of an update to the village’s zoning code. However, Voss requested and the majority of the board agreed that it wanted to discuss the issue further at its upcoming meeting on Monday, July 23. A separate proposed zoning code would allow for backyard beekeeping.
Voss said she has concerns about how backyard chickens or bees might impact neighboring residents, but also thinks those issues should be considered separately from the rest of the zoning code.
“I think the zoning code in itself is such an important topic for the entire community that I don’t want to see it get mired down in this one topic,” she said.
But some village officials, including Mayor Ken Kessler, support allowing residents to have backyard chickens as pets.
Kessler said he sees the issue of backyard chickens as part of a positive trend of increased self reliance and sustainability, similar to organic foods or community gardens. He said the proposal would be to allow people to have a small number of chickens in coups as backyard pets, with the side benefit for the owner being that the chickens lay eggs that could be used as food.
“We’re not looking for people to set up chicken farms,” he said.
Kessler said a number of other towns such as Evanston, Mount Prospect, Oak Park and Naperville allow backyard chickens. He said the research he has done found no significant impact on neighbors, in terms of smell, noise or other issues.
Kim said that under the proposing zoning change, owners would only be allowed to have hens, which make little noise, and roosters would be prohibited.
Kim notes the village’s current zoning ordinance already allows residents to have a variety of different pets, including pot-bellied pigs.
“There are more communicable diseases from dogs and cats than from chickens,” she said.
Kim’s next door neighbor Matt Stauber said he supports her efforts to allow backyard chickens in town.
“I think people that support backyard chickens also bring conservation efforts to the community and sustainability,” Stauber said. “I think it’s important for people to see where their food comes from rather than just seeing it on the grocery store shelves. I also think it’s a good learning experience for children.”