GRAYSLAKE – The village board took its first step Tuesday toward allowing backyard chickens.
Trustee Shawn Vogel said he still had reservations, but he believed allowing chickens would be a good educational experience for the suburb, noting the village's farming heritage.
"Especially in a day when we don't see farms, this is a small sliver of the flavor of a farm," he said at the village board's meeting. "The impact will ultimately be minimal."
Vogel added that there are places in town that have chickens.
"The existence of chickens predates this suburb," he said.
"You're more favorable than I thought you'd be," Mayor Rhett Taylor said.
Two village advisory panels have recommended going ahead with allowing backyard chickens under certain conditions.
The trustees generally opposed requiring residents get special-use permits to have chickens, saying the cost – $350, nearly $60 a chicken – would be unreasonable. They also noted that the permit process would probably take too much staff time.
"I think to have an applicant have a chicken coop reviewed by this board is a little too big brother," Vogel said.
The proposed rules include limiting chicken coops to six feet in height.
During public comment, Grayslake resident Natalie Sturm disagreed with that restriction and others.
"Most are seven or eight feet tall," the teenager said. "Having the coops taller makes it easier to clean them. They look like sheds. They are not out of place."
The board generally agreed to raise the height limit to eight feet.
She also said the proposal to limit each household to six hens is overly restrictive.
"With six hens, you won't get enough eggs to sell them," she said.
The proposed restrictions also include limiting chickens to single-family houses and ensuring that those with chickens follow the village's nuisance ordinance.
The rules also would allow chickens to run free range, with regulation fencing.
"I'm for freedom as long as it balances with the rights of neighbors," the mayor said.
Trustees agreed to take action on an ordinance allowing backyard chickens at their meeting later this month.