LAKE BLUFF — A program allowing residents to raise egg-laying chickens or maintain beehives in their yards is under consideration in Lake Bluff.
The village’s Sustainability and Community Enhancement Ad Hoc Committee is developing a pilot program permitting residents to keep chickens, bees or both in their yards. The committee’s goal is to create sustainable, green initiatives in Lake Bluff.
Though details remain to be fully developed, the idea is taking shape, according to Brian Rener, SEC co-chair and former village trustee. He said that before a final ordinance goes to the Village Board of Trustees for a vote, the committee plans to gather feedback from residents at public meetings.
A meeting will likely be in July, according to Franco Bottalico, the village’s administrative intern. He said a final date or dates are being worked out.
The program may become permanent either as it is laid out or modified during its initial stages, said Village Administrator Drew Irvin. It could also be dropped. If the pilot program is approved, the trial period would last two to three years, he said.
Rener said in a DailyNorthShore.com interview that the pilot program is an opportunity to take a look at how a permanent program would work. He said changes may be made along the way as the village monitors the impact. During the study, the SEC looked at ordinances in Deerfield, Evanston, Lake County and other communities further away to get ideas.
“We are taking a look at issues relative to sustainability, green initiatives and beautification of the village. Bees and chickens are at the top of the list,” said Rener. “The SEC likes the idea of local products for food sources,” he added referring to fresh eggs and honey.
Under the proposed pilot program, residents would be allowed to keep up to six hens on their property, according to Rener. Roosters would not be allowed, and hens would be permitted for laying eggs but not to raise chicks. Neighbors would get notice and have an opportunity to give their input before the person planning to keep chickens could go ahead.
Rener said regulations would be specific in terms of the size of the chicken coop and fenced space where the birds could roam in the yard.
“The eggs are for personal use,” said Rener.”People will not be able to sell them. They will have to comply with the legislation and the nuisance ordinance will still be in effect.”
If the village goes ahead with the pilot program, permits would be meted out on a case-by-case basis as people apply, according to Irvin. He said they would be renewable, and that they would not last for an indefinite period of time.
“We want to wheel this out slowly so we can closely observe how this is working,” said Irvin. “We want to have some people start so we can learn from them. We don’t want to create a problem in advance.”
Those who want to keep bees would be limited to three hives in their yard, according to Rener. They would need to get proper certification from the state before they could seek a license from the village. He said the same rules about notifying neighbors and allowing them to have input would apply, and that there would be a fence required around the hives.
“We want them to fly into the hive from a high angle,” said Rener.
Allowing residents to become beekeepers has a more significant ecological benefit. Rener said the bee population is in decline locally, across the country and around the world. The condition has a negative impact on produce people eat.
“It’s not just the honey,” said Rener. “Because of their pollination it is important to keep the bee population as healthy as possible.”
A significant amount of food people eat is pollinated by bees, said Jess Ray, a beekeeper in Mettawa and former mayor there, who was quoted in a March 10 DNS article.
“One third of every piece of food you put in your mouth has to be pollinated by a bee,” said Ray. “We have a colony collapse disorder of the hives. This is a worldwide problem.”