Deerfield board allows families to raise chickens as part of pilot program
Patricia Glicksberg holds a chicken while in her backyard on May 5, 2012. | Jon Durr~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 11:02AM
DEERFIELD — Deerfield is officially allowing five of its homes the chance to keep chickens.
Officials approved an ordinance Tuesday that will allow five single-family homes to raise chickens as part of a year-long pilot program that will run from March 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014 — or longer, if the village decides to extend it.
“It’s an assessment, to see if this will cause unforeseen problems—it’s not expected to, but the pilot program is a controlled way to observe its effects,” said Assistant to the Village Manager Andrew Lichterman.
Trustees voted 5-1 for the program to move forward.
“This ordinance was constructed in a way that we hope is good for the long-term of chicken keeping,” said Trustee Alan Farkas. At their Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 26, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal spoke in favor of the program, saying that chicken keeping was the way of the future.
On Feb. 4, the ordinance’s first reading was well received by all trustees, except for Trustee William Seiden.
“I say to myself ‘would I want a chicken coop next door to me?’ And the answer is ‘no,’’” Seiden said. “I wouldn’t want to put anyone in the village through that either.”
Ultimately, officials passed the program along with a number of conditions for those licensed individuals to abide by.
Per the program, those licensed individuals are permitted to keep a maximum of four chickens--and no roosters; confine the chickens to a coop; keep an Illinois Department of Agriculture Livestock Premises Registration on-site; provide at least six square feet of living space for each chicken; keep the coop in their rear yard; and set the coop back a minimum of ten feet from all neighboring property lines.
Deerfield residents Barbara and Jim Solheim, Tom Hansen and Ahmed Hawari will likely be the first to get the licenses.
The Solheims wrote a letter to the village last April about amending the village’s animal ordinances to accommodate the raising of chickens.
“We would not want to have a rooster that crows. What we do want are hens that are bred to have a quiet and gentle disposition, and be hardy in cold weather,” said the Solheim’s letter.
Hawari said he’s been keeping chickens on and off for the last ten years—more seriously over the past two—and similarly spoke about their gentle disposition, as a result of not having a rooster around.
“They are wonderful, and they are quiet as long as there is no rooster involved…and their eggs taste and smell better because they are organic,” Hawari said of his chickens, which he also sees as pets.
Hawari said that he and his neighbors built a chicken coop that looks like a “gingerbread house” with a shingled roof and windmill, and that many of the families with children in his neighborhood have enjoyed visiting and petting the friendly chickens during the warmer months.
Like with any pet, he said that maintaining the chicken coop was work, though it’s been more of an enjoyable, longtime hobby.
Trustee Farkas is hoping that the year-long pilot will ease people into the idea that it could be long-term.
“The idea is to use this as an opportunity to prove to those who are not fully in favor of the idea, that it can be done and that it won’t be a problem,” Farkas said at the Feb. 4 meeting, where more discussions were had about the subject.
Hawari said that people have been raising chickens in the town without people knowing it. Officials had mentioned that if people in the village have been keeping chickens in their yards for years without hearing complaints from their neighbors or any others in the town, it was a good sign that the practice wasn’t a nuisance.
Lichterman said the village expects all five licenses to be utilized.