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Hens get go-ahead in Grayslake

Vote a victory for 15-year-old

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 8:42 a.m. CDT
(Candace H. Johnson - For Shaw Media)
Natalie Sturm, 15, pets Cheche at her home in Grayslake. Cheche came to visit Natalie from her 4-H club leader’s home in Antioch.

GRAYSLAKE – Want to raise a hen? You can do it Grayslake now, with a number of restrictions.

This week, the village board voted to allow backyard chickens, a partial return to Grayslake's agricultural past.

The rules require that chickens be in backyards and that residents not sell the eggs or slaughter the birds. All coops must be enclosed. Roosters aren't allowed.

The vote was a victory was Natalie Sturm, 15, of Grayslake, who was one of the leaders in the push to allow backyard chickens.

This summer is the third year that Sturm will have entered goats and chickens and agricultural art projects in the Lake County Fair. In a recent interview, Sturm said chickens are her favorite animal.

"They're fun and lovable. If you spend a lot of time with them, they'll respond to you," she said. 

She noted that backyard chickens are even allowed in Chicago. 

The village board wasn't Sturm's only hurdle. Her mother, Sue, was another. But after Sue learned about the process of raising chickens, she warmed to the idea. 

At one point, Sturm made a PowerPoint presentation to Grayslake's zoning board about how backyard chickens are raised. 

In early June, village board members indicated they were willing to allow hens and slated a vote for the next month.

Trustee Shawn Vogel had reservations, but he believed allowing chickens would be a good lesson in a suburb with a farming heritage.

"The impact will ultimately be minimal," he said. "The existence of chickens predates this suburb."

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