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3 things we learned at Tuesday's village council meeting

The Downers Grove Village Council could vote on a revised backyard chicken ordinance as soon as May 7.
The Downers Grove Village Council could vote on a revised backyard chicken ordinance as soon as May 7.

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council seemingly made progress on long-discussed revisions to the backyard hen ordinance, and approved another coffee shop in the village, among other items at their regular meeting Tuesday. Here are three highlights:

1. More backyards chickens could come to Downers Grove soon

At the meeting, commissioners heard the first reading of the revised backyard chicken ordinance that would expand the number of properties that can raise fowls.

The new ordinance would reduce the mandatory property line setbacks for a chicken coop from 50 feet to 7 feet. Under the current ordinance, there are only about 500 parcels in the village that would be able to have the birds, according to village documents.

Backyard chickens were discussed extensively in early 2013, though that council decided not to make any changes, and deferred the topic to this January.

Mayor Martin Tully and the majority of council members seem ready Tuesday to vote on the new ordinance at the next village council meeting, scheduled for May 7.

"We've been talking about this for more than a year and I think action is ready," Commissioner Geoff Neustadt said.

In addition to reducing the setback requirement, prospective hen owners would be restricted to four birds and would have to acquire an $84 permit from the village, and obtain consent from neighbors. The permit would have to be renewed every five years. At that time, hen owners would have to re-obtain consent from existing neighbors and any new neighbors.

2. Fourth Starbucks is headed to Downers Grove

The council unanimously approved three zoning and permit items allowing a new Starbucks Coffee proposed for Butterfield Road.

The council discussed the proposal previously at the April 8 meeting when the items came up for first reading, but did not discuss the proposal at Tuesday's meeting.

The Starbucks is planned for the parking lot space to the east of Portillo's in the Finley Square Shopping Center in the 1500 block of Butterfield Road, an area council members said on April 8 receives heavy amounts of traffic and pedestrians, especially during prime shopping hours.

Community Development Director Tom Dabareiner said the petitioner did address the issue of congestion, and village staff believes that it will not be an issue because Starbuck's peak hours differs from the shopping center's peak hours.

The new Butterfield Road location will be the fourth Starbucks in Downers Grove. In September, the council unanimously approved a new Starbucks planned for 1149 Ogden Ave., which is currently under construction. Existing Starbucks locations include 5002 Main St. and 76 Ogden Ave.

3. Sales tax receipts were $495,000 higher than expected last year

Village staff presented an ordinance amending the budget for fiscal year 2013 to reflect actual expenses and revenues.

In addition to sales taxes, other unanticipated revenues included additional state income tax of $567,000, a $222,000 grant from FEMA for flood recovery and $494,000 in building licenses and permits due to strong commercial activity.

There were also several unbudgeted expenses, including $1.35 million from the storm water fund to buy and demolish properties that experience recurring flooding, and $12,000 for the operation of the Grove Shuttle. The shuttle expenses will be covered by PACE, according to village staff. The risk fund also had payments of $800,000.

"The risk fund accounts for financial activity related to the village’s workers’ compensation and liability insurance program," according to staff documents. "The village self-insures for a substantial amount of workers’ compensation (worker injuries) and property risks (vehicles). In self-insured plans, claims are projected based on historical trends. Due to the unpredictable nature of claims, there is a margin of uncertainty in any given year."

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