LAKE BLUFF — After fine tuning by the Sustainability and Community Enhancement Ad Hoc Committee (SEC), a pilot program to allow Lake Bluff residents to keep chickens and beehives on their property is on its way to the Village Board of Trustees for consideration.
The SEC discussed further details requested by the board’s Committee of the Whole, added some changes to its initial proposal and unanimously recommended the outline of an ordinance November 29 at Village Hall.
Along with discussion among committee members, the public had an opportunity to speak. Though owning chickens was discussed, no one from the public made any comments about beehives, and they were not a topic at the meeting. The issues were limited solely to chickens.
Originally recommending the outline of an ordinance to the board October 5, the trustees sent the project back to the SEC November 13 to add more details about the administration of the program as well as dealing with details about structures and zoning.
If approved by the board in its current form, the pilot program will allow 15 residents to have chickens or bees. Glen Cole, Lake Bluff’s assistant to the village administrator, said after the meeting that a total of 15 permits will be issued. The limit is on total permits and not specifically for chickens or bees. There can be any combination of the two that totals 15.
Of those 15 permits, they must be on residential lots of 10,000 square feet or more with two possible exceptions. Committee co-Chair Brian Renner said two permits can be issued to residents whose homes sit on a 7,000-square-foot lot. There will be no recommended changes to the zoning code.
“We don’t see this as part of zoning,” said Renner. “It’s for private single-family homes.”
Along with concerns over lot size, the board wanted the program to be more specific with inspections. Permits would be for a period of no more than 14 months and must be renewed by March 1 of the following year. That gave Renner an idea to build inspections into the permit process.
“They can do it at the time of renewal,” said Renner.
Frank Swanton and other residents do not want chicken coops around their property, though Swanton did not speak against the proposal in its totality. He wants vigilant oversight by the village and tougher restrictions.
“This should not be forced on anyone,” said Swanton. “It should be discussed among neighbors. I don’t want coops on the lot line. There should be ongoing inspections.”
Cole said after the meeting that neighbors do not have veto power but their opinions “should be taken very seriously.” The current pilot proposal requires notice to all adjoining property owners and residents letting them know when there will be a hearing on a requested permit.
Cole said he and John Scopelliti, the village’s administrative intern, toured several suburban chicken coops including some in Deerfield before the meeting. There was space for the animals to roam free in the yard as well as remain in their enclosure.
“They were pretty calm,” said Scopelliti. “They just walked around.”
Residents who do get a permit to raise chickens must have at least two and no more than six. They must be hens. Roosters are not allowed. Eggs produced on the property cannot be sold and chickens cannot be killed in public view.
Committee member Jill Danly wanted to know how the program’s success will be measured to help the village evaluate whether the pilot program should become permanent. Renner said officials and residents will provide the necessary feedback.
The only other North Shore communities that allow chickens on private residential properties are Evanston and Deerfield.