The Chicken controversy appears to be registering with some people and even to an organization that, based on the name (Green Minds LFLB) has roots in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Earlier comments from me have been confined to Lake Bluff save for the reference to the odious experience of one Lake Forest Family and neighborhood exposure to the neglect of local government to regulate pot belly pigs. This event did result in financial loss and personal inconvenience to those involved.
First, and to be clear, there is no pilot program in place in Lake Bluff to regulate chickens and bees, only a draft of such a proposal that is yet to be acted upon. What we should be concerned about is the intention and motive of Green Minds LFLB who are clearly advocates for chickens in our Village. When I see phrases like; sustainable, socio-economic, and environmental benefits, my antennae goes up. Are we running a Village Government or are we engaged in some sort of social experiment?
Green Minds draws comparisons of our environment to that of other communities; notably Chicago and a host of towns that are among the most affluent in the nation. Chicago is hardly a model of government competence, and Darian CT, Scarsdale NY and West university Place TX building lots are certainly not 50’ X 125’ (1/6 of an acre) like Lake Bluff. References to “Big” cities like Boston, Pittsburgh, and Houston (a poster child for unregulated zoning) are also irrelevant; Lake Bluff is a small Village and our issues are quite different. Our lots are small, home ownership is nearly 100% vs rental, and our community is uniquely homogeneous and harmonious in culture and desires. People choose to live here because of that similarity in culture, safety and community. We pay high taxes for that privilege. The last thing we need is the presence of offensive undomesticated fowl that will undoubtedly impact the value and marketability of our properties.
Drawing comparisons to dogs and cats, to ducks and chickens strikes me too as a stretch. Dogs and cats are indoor creatures easily trained while ducks and chickens are not. In fact a dog is featured in our Village identity and branding initiative.
Let us also address a couple of other matters referenced by Green Minds:
- Wild birds are not acquired property and cannot be regulated; they are unfortunately free to do as they please. Do Canadian Geese, who are protected, come to mind?
- The notion of freedom to do as one pleases on their own property is valid until it has an unfavorable impact on a neighbor or the community. Free speech is not unrestricted; falsely shouting fire in a crowded theatre is not permitted.
- Chickens are not benign, they are noisy, undomesticated creatures and in spite of the benefit of their waste as fertilizer, it smells and creates an undesirable by product requiring some sort of disposal solution. Who, when and how?
- Barring chickens in Lake Bluff is hardly criminalizing, it is good governance and preserving the rights of the majority who find chickens undesirable.
- If we need to allow chickens for certain individuals who want or need to provide for themselves, I suggest they move to an agricultural community as Lake Bluff does not offer property sizes large enough to accommodate farming and livestock.
I am not sure how we got to the place where the idea of chicken coops looked like a good idea, and as they say, “What could possibly go wrong?’” Plenty could go wrong, including the relationship of neighbors with one another, the added cost, and burden of policing for compliance with any new ordinance, the slippery slope of what will be next, rabbits, a goat or sheep, a petting zoo, and finally the decline in marketability and value of our homes.
This is a bad idea from the beginning, has no place in the Village and deserves a timely and dignified closure.
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