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Chicken Coops Back on the Agenda at Village Council

Commissioners will discuss options for updates to the village's chicken coop rules and regulations.

Village Council members will take another look Jan. 14 at rules surrounding chicken coops in Downers Grove. 

A report published on the village website details several options for changes to fowl regulations—including requiring permits to house chicken coops and allowing neighbor input in the process. Updates—if any—could also include revised yard setback requirements. 

One option up for consideration would leave the ordinance untouched. Residents would still be able to keep chickens on single family parcels that meet the minimum setback requirement of 50 feet from the lot lines. The Village would take action to prohibit keeping of roosters.

Two other options would involve adjusting the setback requirement, resulting in more relaxed regulations so that the majority of single-family residences would be eligible for a limited number of permits. 

Under one of those two options, neighbors would be able to object and override an applicant's permit. In the third option, neighboring residents and property owners would be notified of the application for a chicken coop building permit as a way to encourage interaction among the prospective chicken owner and surrounding neighbors. 


Village staff began researching the ordinance in Jan. 2013, after Commissioner Becky Rheintgen asked that they look into the possibility of increasing the number of chickens permitted, decreasing setback requirements, banning roosters, and requiring a license or permit for keeping chickens.


The current ordinance—adopted in 1987—defines fowl as "any domesticated bird, poultry or water fowl, except for homing pigeons and caged birds kept as house pets." A maximum of four fowl aged 18 weeks or older and four fowl younger than 18 weeks are permitted on residential properties.

Per current village code, all fowl must be entirely confined in a pen, coop, building or other enclosure at all times. Enclosures must be set back at least 50 feet from any property line and shall be kept "clean, sanitary and free from all refuse."


There are currently 14 municipalities with property in DuPage County that allow backyard chickens: Bartlett, Batavia, Burr Ridge, Darien, Downers Grove, Itasca, Lemont, Naperville, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne and Woodale.

The item is up for its first reading—and will be discussion only at the meeting Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. 

There are plenty of ways to keep up on Downers Grove news:

DHD January 14, 2014 at 12:39 AM
The rodents are hopeful.
Stacey Poulter January 14, 2014 at 09:09 AM
I would love to see more regulation on this! I have neighbors who have Chickens and they let them run loose and they will come into the back of my yard. They should have stronger guidelines....I have to keep my 4 dogs contained and on my property they should have to do the same with their "pets".
wayne enerson January 14, 2014 at 09:45 AM
I would like to know how much time and money has been spent and how much more will be on this issue. Not a great use of Village tax money.
William Waldack January 14, 2014 at 02:54 PM
Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said in-town chicken flocks pose a health risk to seniors, children esp. under age 5, pregnant women, diabetics, people with immune problems such as those on chemotherapy. Chicken feed attracts rodents. Chickens attract predators such as coyote, fox, skunks, owls, and others who will be in neighbors yards trying to get into the coops. Your pets and children will be in increased danger. Dogs are predators, so if they attack a pet chicken, guess who’s going to take the punishment. When a pet barks at the chickens, they can become a noise nuisance and the dog may have to be removed. While proponents call it fertilizer, the runoff on neighbors’ property pollutes the environment and may cause unwanted and unhealthy results to neighbors. The Village Council will be acting in reckless (willfull) disregard for the health, safety, and property values if they modify the ordinance. If you are opposed, please come tonight because the pro-chicken forces will be out in full farce. Otherwise, call Village Hall and ket them know.

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